How are you celebrating the 61st anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s historic mission to outer space? Are you looking up at the night sky and thinking of the impossibility of life on this delicate, aqueous world we call home? Are you celebrating by writing a weird column about how Gagarin isn’t that cool because he almost didn’t go to space? A Turkish restaurateur named Yasar Aydin has a cooler answer than any of these: he attempt to send a kebab into space. He fell short, depending on how you define “space,” but he got someone to attach a kebab, cooked to regional preferences, to a helium balloon and then send said balloon forth to the sky gods as an offering.
The balloon exploded some 38 kilometers above the surface of the Earth and fell back down to the sea, where it was retrieved and feted with a small parade. Delightful. The camera attached to the kebab survived the landing and showed some fish poking around the kebab and taking a few bites. The matter at hand, however, is not whether or not it’s funny to send a kebab to space (yes), but rather, what you define as “space.” Here’s a translated quote from Aydin:
Expressing that he is a person who loves firsts, Yaşar Aydın said, “I am a person who always loves firsts. I will have different projects. I am a rib and kebab restaurant. My projects are always about kebab. We have reached a certain level of space right now. Maybe we will raise this kebab even higher in the future.”T24
How much higher would the kebab have to be hoisted in order for it to cross into space? The most commonly accepted border is the Kármán line, 100 kilometers above the surface of the Earth. The kebab almost crossed from the stratosphere into the mesosphere, which begins at 50 kilometers, so was not very close to what we can call space. However, not everyone agrees that the Kármán line is all the definitive. The U.S. Air Force and NASA, for example, say that space actually starts at 50 miles, or just over 80 kilometers. By their definition, the kebab made it nearly halfway to space. Nice work. Next year, I hope the kebab can go boldly where no grilled meat has gone before.