The phrase "cigar launch" took on a more literal meaning this morning when the Alec Bradley Cigar Company attached thirty of its new Mundial cigars to a weather balloon and successfully released them into the stratosphere from atop the Palms Casino Resort. After traveling approximately 18 miles up, the weather balloon ruptured, a parachute deployed, and the Mundial cigars gently fell back to earth in perfect condition, ready to be smoked.
"We have made history," said Sam Phillips, vice president of marketing for Alec Bradley, via a text message. The cigars were found in the Sheep Range mountains, about a two hour drive north of Las Vegas.
According to company owner Alan Rubin, the space launch took about three to four months to plan with Sky-Probe.com, a company that specializes in high-altitude balloon launches. Sky-Probe oversaw this morning's launch, which took place on the patio area of Phil Maloof's penthouse in the Palms, as well as the subsequent retrieval.
While the launch preparations, which included contacting the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure the cigars and weather balloon complied with regulations, were fairly controllable, retrieval of the Mundial cigars was another matter.
"You can't control the wind. The retrieval is a huge part of this; we have no clue where [the cigars] are going to come down," said Rubin just after the launch. "We had to coordinate with Sky-Probe, making sure the payload could hold enough cigars for us; and then all of the logistics of how it was going to look, what we wanted it to look like and what it represented for us. There's a lot of minute details."
Rubin said he plans to give one of the spaced-out Mundials to Phil Maloof for his generosity to help make the launch a reality. He also wants to hang five of the cigars on a wall in his home and plans to explore the idea of donating a portion of the cigars to a charity auction.
For more on the Mundial cigars, see Alec Bradley Final Completes Mundial