A haggis has been launched to the edge of space for the first time as Burns Night celebrations reached new heights.
Scottish butcher Simon Howie worked with space education and research firm Stratonauts to launch the 454g haggis in Perth and Kinross this month.
The haggis was attached to a weather balloon and soared more than 20 miles (107,293ft) above the Earth – equivalent to nearly four times the height of Everest.
After taking off from the Simon Howie headquarters in Dunning, it travelled over Stirling, Falkirk, Edinburgh and the Pentland Hills before landing safely in Lauder in the Borders.
Mr Howie said: “After a year like no other, we wanted to kick off 2021 by lifting the spirits of the general public. We are thrilled to have worked with Stratonauts to take Scotland’s national dish to new heights.
“Burns Night is one of the most important dates on the food calendar for us and we wanted to mark the occasion by sending the UK’s best-selling haggis, the Original 454g, to the edge of space.
We hope that our space haggis gives everyone some much-needed cheer
“It has been a difficult time and I’m incredibly proud of everyone that works for me, from increasing production to support the supermarkets through the period of panic-buying to the demands of Christmas production and now Burns – we are working round the clock to produce over one million haggis and feed over three million customers our best-selling haggis.
“We hope that our space haggis gives everyone some much-needed cheer.”
The haggis was airborne for two hours, 37 minutes and covered a distance of 52 miles.
It has now been safely transported back to the company’s headquarters, where it will be preserved for years to come as the “first haggis in space”.
Mr Howie said it is hoped the mission, which came ahead of Burns Night on January 25, sparks intergalactic and scientific interest in young people.
Once the current Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, the company plans to run workshops in partnership with Stratonauts in local primary schools to encourage more pupils into science, technology, engineering and maths-related careers.
Lewis Campbell, Stratonauts director, said: “Launching from Dunning was challenging due to the winds as we needed to ensure a safe retrieval of the footage and of course the ‘space haggis’ itself.
“Having monitored the weather for weeks, a window of opportunity finally presented itself – and what a window it turned out to be. Perfect conditions.
“After reaching over 107,000ft with views of at least 250 miles, the haggis then fell to Earth at nearly 200mph before the parachute took over – meaning it is also probably the fastest haggis in the world too.
“We are delighted to have worked with Simon Howie on this flight to the edge of space and to fly a haggis to such great heights in celebration of Burns Night 2021.”