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A giant step for hamkind: Hamster survives daring trip into the stratosphere on a flying balloon

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It’s one giant step for hamkind.

A hamster has successfully returned to Earth after being launched into the stratosphere on a flying balloon.

The spaceham reached a maximum altitude of 14 miles (23km) – and is in good health after being safely recovered from the sea off Japan’s Miyako Island.

According to Iwatani Giken, the company behind the daring experiment, the hamster was placed in an airtight cabin 60cm high and 50cm in diameter, with the same atmospheric pressure and temperature as the ground.

One photograph showed the rodent looking wistfully out the window while seven miles (12km) above the Earth.

The balloon was launched from Miyakojima, a city in Okinawa Prefecture, and climbed at an average of 6.3 metres per second.

A camera installed inside the cabin showed the animal snoozing comfortably during the gradual ascent.

Iwatani Giken is hoping to bring manned space travel to the masses, and the experiment was designed to give would-be consumers confidence.

Further test flights to an altitude of 15 miles (25km) are planned – and at this height, people would be able to see the curvature of the Earth.

Running in a wheel may seem a little underwhelming for the hamster now that it’s got a taste for heights.

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