I am pleased to say that SkySat-Chocolate was a great success at this morning’s launch party! There was much oohing and aahing as people passed by.
Here are two closeups that my friend Lieven generously shot for me. This is the outside:
And here is the interior, showing the mirror inside:
The thing in the far back is the primary mirror (for the camera), the silvery piece up front is the secondary mirror. The doohickey on the right is the antenna (I think).
As you can see, there are a number of imperfections – the room was really too hot to be working with chocolate, so the chocolate is streaky in some areas. And the welding job isn’t great – there are drips of chocolate visible along the edges. But on the whole it’s quite good for a first attempt at chocolate sculpture, and I’m happy with it.
Here are a few photos from the making of SkySat-Chocolate. Here are the mirrors, cast using an inflatable ball dipped into white chocolate:
And here is the mirror after being trimmed and painted with silver colored cocoa butter. I’m in the process of carving the holes for the antenna, as you can see:
Here is the Google-Skybox logo that went onto the side. I painted a sheet of acetate with colored cocoa butter, then poured white chocolate over the acetate sheet. The colored cocoa butter bonded to the chocolate, transferring the logo to the sheet of white chocolate:
(The logo is the Skybox logo in Google rainbow colors, to reflect both companies. Purely unofficial, of course.)
The “solar panels” on the sides were created by carving a stencil, then using a paint roller to apply melted chocolate through the holes on the stencil. Before the chocolate hardened, I sifted on a mix of blue and black edible glitter, resulting in these:
I then drizzled glue, I mean chocolate, over the panel and applied the white chocolate logos to two of the sides, like this:
Finally, I got Mike to help me assemble the satellite. He held the pieces in place while I glued them together with melted chocolate, “freezing” them in place by spraying them with Magic Freeze, a compressed-gas product designed to cool things rapidly. (It was developed for pastry chefs doing chocolate sculpture and other things for which quick chilling is useful.) Here is what it looked like with two sides on:
It’s a tribute either to my incredibly good planning or my incredibly good luck that the pieces all lined up perfectly, with only the tiniest of gaps when the last part was put into place:
And then we put it onto a board and glued it down with (what else?) more chocolate, and added the open spacecraft door.
Here is SkySat-Chocolate at the party:
I’m pleased to say that it was quite well-received, and also that people had no compunctions about eating it after we gave the word. I had been a bit worried that it wouldn’t get eaten, which would have been a tragic waste of fifteen pounds of top-quality Valrhona chocolate. But when I left work today, only chocolate rubble was left. A successful launch!
And the other satellite? Oh yes, that one! I’m very pleased to announce that SkySat-2 launched successfully into low earth orbit. From our official company blog:
We are happy to announce the launch of SkySat-2 this morning aboard a Soyuz-2/Fregat rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. We made contact with the satellite on the first pass.
Below is an image taken by SkySat-1 of SkySat-2’s launch pad on July 7, 2014 and a photo taken by Roscosmos of the Soyuz-2/Fregat rocket on July 8, 2014.
And, finally, where are the cats amidst all this space exploration? Well, Fritz hasn’t quite made it into low earth orbit yet, but he’s definitely trying to fly. Here he is, perched atop the shower door – a good five-foot leap, onto a ledge no more than three inches wide. (He is obviously not worried about gravity!)