NASA doesn’t have a lock on space exploration anymore. Just askLauren Rojas, a seventh grader in Antioch, Calif., who recently launched a balloon to 93,625 feet using a do-it-yourself balloon kit from High Altitude Science…
The project is a terrific illustration of just how accessible the near-space environment has become. High Altitude Science was founded two years ago by Joseph Maydell, a flight controller for the International Space Station at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, who wanted everyone to experience the beautiful views of the planet that he got to see in the course of his work.
After flying to an altitude of 39,045 meters (128,100 feet) in a helium-filled balloon, Felix Baumgartner completed a record breaking jump for the ages from the edge of space, exactly 65 years after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier flying in an experimental rocket-powered airplane. Felix reached a maximum of speed of 1,342.8 km/h (833mph) through the near vacuum of the stratosphere before being slowed by the atmosphere later during his 4:20 minute long freefall. The 43-year-old Austrian skydiving expert also broke two other world records (highest freefall, highest manned balloon flight), leaving the one for the longest freefall to project mentor Col. Joe Kittinger.
Lifted by a weather balloon, and accompanied by a taped up orange styrofoam box with an HD camera and a GPS-equipped phone, the train traveled up to see the earth’s curvature and then came falling back down, landing 27 miles from where it launched.
Two weeks ago, Canadian teens Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad launched a helium balloon and a lego minifig into the upper atmosphere — approximately 80,000 feet up — equipped with four cameras to witness the experiment and a GPS for recovery.
Aerostat — a lovely video of a balloon and video camera’s journey high enough to see space where it recorded an enviable sun flare shot — reminded me of this video shown above: Homemade Spacecraft/Space Balloon.
Launched by a father and his seven year old in August, 2010, their homemade balloon and video camera set up (housed in a takeout container) also got to see the curve of the Earth, climbing 19 miles high before the balloon burst. It includes a bit more nitty gritty from their experiment, with lots of onscreen notes. Great stuff if you’re itchin’ to DIY with your own weather balloon, video camera and iPhone.