When a KFC commercial introducing actor Rob Lowe as the new official portrayer of founder Colonel Sanders was framed as a speech on launching a spicy Zinger chicken sandwich into space, nobody ever thought it could contain a kernel of truth.

So even as private companies like SpaceX launch rockets carrying satellites or supplies to the International Space Station, another private venture backed by KFC is gearing up to turn an ad campaign into reality. It may not be going up to space in a rocket, but one “historic” spicy Zinger chicken sandwich will indeed be headed for the upper regions of Earth’s atmosphere in a new type of high-altitude balloon.

Making the ad real

On Thursday, June 28, a joint venture of sorts between KFC and World View Enterprises, a high-altitude balloon company based in Arizona, will attempt to send one of the fried-chicken franchise’s sandwiches to the stratosphere. It’s not exactly outer space, but it’s close.

The vehicle of choice will be the Stratolight balloon, designed to be able to float up to and withstand the rigors of 100,000 feet in the steadily thinning air. The planned “launch” of the KFC Zinger sandwich will leave it airborne in the upper atmosphere for a few days before returning to the ground.

This partnership with KFC for their ambitious marketing campaign is a golden opportunity for World View Enterprises and their high-altitude balloons.

They hope to engage the public into someday taking rides up to the upper atmosphere on their vehicles.

The Stratolight, which will carry the Zinger sandwich, is planned to serve a function similar to a low-hanging satellite that doesn’t need to be rocket-launched. It can be set to carry meteorological, astronomical or communication instruments for scanning either the surface or space and facilitating communications.

Carrying a KFC Zinger not only serves the brand’s marketing but also doubles as a test flight for the Stratolight.

Brands helping brands

Under optimal conditions, World View hopes to keep the Stratolight balloon carrying the KFC Zinger chicken sandwich in the stratosphere for four days, which is the longest that the high-altitude vehicle has ever flown in testing.

Previous trips had only taken anywhere between six to 12 hours. This particular trip will take place outside Tucson, Arizona on Thursday morning. It was originally scheduled for June 21, but the launch of the Zinger was postponed due to bad weather.

Should it succeed with their KFC launch, World View hopes to develop the Stratolight balloons not just as inexpensive satellite alternatives but also a tourism venture to take paying customers up in a spacious cabin with bar, bathroom, and Wi-Fi. Tickets are priced for $75,000 a pop.