Along with their regularly duties, five summer interns at Comfort Research were tasked with sending a beanbag chair into space. The chair was made by the Grand Rapids company, which manufactures a range of seating products.It’s Big Joe chair — which was sent into space — is a staple in college dorm rooms around the country.
The interns were dubbed “Yung Joes” after co-founder Matt Jung who came up with the idea for the project and the Comfort Research “Big Joe” chair sent into space.
Lots of prep work
After getting their assignment, the interns gathered every Friday over two months to figure out how to send a beanbag chair into space. The other four days of the week were spent working in their respective departments. The chair, known as ‘kid’s lumin,’ weighed 2.27 pounds. It was carried by weather balloons coordinated by satellites into space. Digital devices were attached to capture the chair’s journey. The interns had to be sure to keep everyone safe by working with the FAA to file a NOTAM (Notice To Air Men) as well as contact the local airports about their plans.
They brought in Caledonia resident Chris Bhelm, who has sent a few other weather balloons up into space with local middle schools, to advise on the project.
Working with a kit, the interns added custom GoPro pockets, made by the Comfort Research Sew Team. Then, they mounted the cameras at the front of the craft, using custom coolers designed by company engineer Max Juhiln, to keep them warm. Other equipment included a radar dome, parachute, 1500g Weather Balloon and two GPS tracking devices.
“It was something I thought would be really cool,” said Matt Jung, co-founder of Comfort Research, who came up with the idea of sending one of his company’s products into space in 2016.