Meet Sam, the (stuffed) space dog, who has ventured where few other plush canines have gone before -- space. On Tuesday, the furry mascot lifted off into the sky as part of a school project by students from Morecambe Bay Community Primary School in Lancashire, U.K.
The idea was to give the students a unique, dog's-eye view of the curvature of the Earth from space. Sam was attached to a helium balloon with GPS tracking equipment and a miniature camera, and launched by a company called SentIntoSpace.com from the grounds of the local Midland Hotel.
Sam rose up 15 miles into the sky, but then things stopped going according to plan. The balloon he was attached to popped and his spacecraft fell down into a field, some 30 miles away from the launching site. What remained? Well, British media report the camera and GPS were found, but the intrepid canine astronaut was missing.
"We really would like our Sam back, he's the most important thing," said Katie Wood, a teacher at the school. One of her young pupils added: "He's so important because he went into space."
A wanted poster for Sam started making the rounds online:
The school started a social media campaign that has spread around the world, hoping to locate brave Sam. It's estimated that the toy could be somewhere within a 40 to 50 mile radius of the crash site.
The hashtag #FindSam quickly began trending on Twitter.
"Our footage indicates that one of the helium balloon tethers got tangled with the mascot when it burst at peak altitude and the freefall part of the flight commenced," Chris Rose from SentIntoSpace.com said in an interview with the Burnley Express.
There is a reward for finding the school's mascot. If Sam is safely returned, his rescuers will be treated to a luxury stay at the Midland Hotel.
May Sam, that canine explorer of the cosmos, come home safe.