A SPACE-travelling spud made national headlines last week after coming to earth near Hartley Wintney.

It was reported by national media that the organic potato, dressed in a miniature Santa Claus outfit, had travelled 17 miles above the earth from Devon to “near Basingstoke”.

Named “Spudnik2”, it was launched in a ‘shuttle’ made from a two-litre drinks bottle, tethered to a huge helium-filled weather balloon, with a camera attached separately to take pictures.

Spudnik2 reached 90,000 ft before the balloon burst and it floated back to earth on a parachute, landing 140 miles away near Hazeley Heath in a tree plantation.

The project was a joint venture between Devon school Landscove C of E Primary, in Buckfastleigh, who made the bottle spacecraft with adult help, and their supplier Riverford Organic Vegetables, who came up with the idea and worked out the logistics.

But what was not widely reported was that the craft made its voyage last year on December 23. It only made the headlines last week after a similar mission was successful in Spain.

As part of the stunt, pictures were rel-eased showing Spudnik silhouetted against the curvature of the earth.

The brains behind the project was 20-year-old student Chester Mojay-Sinclare, who is originally from Buckfastleigh and has links with personnel at Riverford. He said that they were thrilled when they first saw the pictures and realised the project had been a success.

He said: “This was our second attempt. We had lots of problems initially but we were delighted with how things turned out. We were able to track down Spudnik2 thanks to a GPS signal that came from a Blackberry phone we had fitted to it.

“We drove from Devon and only found it just as the light was fading.”