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Lauching a HD video camera into space using a balloon.
September 23, 2009 7:33 PM   Subscribe

Lauching a HD video camera into space using a balloon. And retrieving it in one piece.
posted by Jimbob (38 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is turning into quite the fad. Not that I'm complaining about that.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:44 PM on September 23, 2009


Pretty cool!
posted by darkstar at 7:58 PM on September 23, 2009


Related
posted by burnmp3s at 8:02 PM on September 23, 2009


Did you see this Michel Gondry?
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 8:06 PM on September 23, 2009


You're so full of hot air, Burhanistan.
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:28 PM on September 23, 2009


Wow, it has been a long time since I got honestly queasy from motion sickness just by watching a video. Last time was Blair Witch Project. Be careful if you are prone to such things. Otherwise this was indeed very cool. I really wish I could have watched the whole thing. A time lapse version always taking frames from the same camera orientation would be wicked!
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 8:29 PM on September 23, 2009


Not to quibble but this is far from the edge of space. The video states it reached an altitude of 100k feet and the Kármán line is about 327k feet, so it isn't even close. For comparison the SR-71 Blackbird had a flight ceiling 85k feet. The pre-rocket balloon flights of the 50s were at about 100k feet so they are definitely at the maximum altitude at which balloons are feasible.

I've always been curious as to why high altitude balloons don't serve as rocket launch platforms. I always assumed it was because they only get you 1/3 of the way there and by the time you build a rocket that can do the other 2/3 it is trivial to drop the balloon all together and just go for broke. I could be wrong. Here's a cool Ted Talk with Steve Jurvetson about model rockets that really do go to space. Well one did, it took a picture when it got to the top and fell back to earth.
posted by geoff. at 8:36 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


They skipped far too ahead and we don't get to see the gradual transition from blue to black sky (although that would take two hours, it would be good to see some points between the splice). Also, future versions of these boxes should have some kind of stabilizer fins to steady the flat spin on descent.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:38 PM on September 23, 2009


You're so full of hot air, Burhanistan.

The helium was actually closer to ambient temperature. So what?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:41 PM on September 23, 2009


Robots sure get excited about everything. I mean, up, down....
posted by humannaire at 8:56 PM on September 23, 2009


Okay fucking awesome. I watched while listening to Solo Andata's self titled release on 12k records. WHICH WAS AWESOME.
posted by xmutex at 9:04 PM on September 23, 2009


Thank fuck there wasn't a chill-out soundtrack. Something about hearing police sirens from a few hundred feet was for reflection.
posted by kink at 9:29 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


* enough (for reflection)
posted by kink at 9:34 PM on September 23, 2009


geoff.: Balloons have been used as rocket launch platforms.

Another disadvantage is that most of the energy needed to get to LEO is for the horizontal velocity, not the altitude.
posted by hattifattener at 9:51 PM on September 23, 2009


Is there any reason why this couldn't be done with a dude in a suit instead of a camera in a box?
posted by mhjb at 10:10 PM on September 23, 2009


Wow, it has been a long time since I got honestly queasy from motion sickness just by watching a video. Last time was Blair Witch Project. Be careful if you are prone to such things.

I've never been prone to such things, but I started to feel some nausea coming on.

posted by I, Slobot at 10:26 PM on September 23, 2009


Woops, forgot to close my tag up there.
posted by I, Slobot at 10:27 PM on September 23, 2009


>: Is there any reason why this couldn't be done with a dude in a suit instead of a camera in a box?

This Boards of Canada video features footage from just that, done (I believe) back in the '60s.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:29 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, those were the worst text overlays and transitions I have ever seen. What hath home video editing software wrought.

And I agree with Burhanistan, it was really dumb to just skip over 2h45m of potential awesome visuals, stepping through it in stages would have been really pretty. (and please no more fades, ever, if i go through my whole life without seeing a fade-to-black again it would be okay with me.)
posted by Super Hans at 10:36 PM on September 23, 2009


Here's a mirror in case the site goes down.
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:37 PM on September 23, 2009


Is there any reason why this couldn't be done with a dude in a suit instead of a camera in a box?

Popular Mechanics March 1956, page 97.
posted by Tube at 10:42 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks dunkadunc and Tube. Now, why isn't it a recreational sport? It doesn't look much more complex than regular from-a-plane type skydiving
posted by mhjb at 10:48 PM on September 23, 2009


This is the highest step in the world.

mhjb: This guy is trying to break the Project Excelsior record and it seems to be a pretty hard thing to accomplish.
posted by zsazsa at 10:58 PM on September 23, 2009


What's the control range on remote control airplanes? Could you put the camera in a glider that you would fly back home after the balloon pops?
posted by pracowity at 11:14 PM on September 23, 2009


I was wondering how they kept it from spinning. They didn't.

I enjoyed the ambient sounds on ascent.

"They skipped far too ahead and we don't get to see the gradual transition from blue to black sky (although that would take two hours, it would be good to see some points between the splice)."

This is what time lapse is for. It should be relatively trivial to do with modern video-editing software. I wouldn't know; I haven't edited video on a computer in nearly 15 years.
posted by Eideteker at 5:09 AM on September 24, 2009


*barfs*

Anyone else feel dizzy after that?
posted by Pollomacho at 5:13 AM on September 24, 2009


I suppose I should actually read the comments before adding my own, no?
posted by Pollomacho at 5:21 AM on September 24, 2009


Excellent stuff, and having the sound really made it seem more visceral to me.
posted by jquinby at 6:13 AM on September 24, 2009


Would have been better in 3D.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:29 AM on September 24, 2009


This is the highest step in the world.
Previously and previously-er.

posted by kirkaracha at 6:48 AM on September 24, 2009


What's the control range on remote control airplanes? Could you put the camera in a glider that you would fly back home after the balloon pops?

With an Arduino and a GPS module you don't even need to be within range of the plane, it could fly itself. GPS is limited to 60,000 km, but I do not know if that's really a problem. The stall speed at at that altitude is probably out of range of anything but a spy plane. You wouldn't be flying, it would be more like controlled falling.
posted by geoff. at 7:11 AM on September 24, 2009


This is really awesome. Someone needs to have a talk with them though about adding a wind vane to weathercock the camera so it's not swinging wildly. Even a short one if we want the occasional panorama.
posted by crapmatic at 7:21 AM on September 24, 2009


I suppose I should actually read the comments before adding my own, no?

What? You must be thinking of some other site.
posted by Ian A.T. at 7:38 AM on September 24, 2009


Neato. But I think I'm gonna hurl.
posted by spilon at 8:38 AM on September 24, 2009


This is what time lapse is for. It should be relatively trivial to do with modern video-editing software. I wouldn't know; I haven't edited video on a computer in nearly 15 years.

I would bet they tried timelapse first, but due to the amount of spin, a timelapse would be very nauseating. You really need a fixed viewpoint or a slow steady spin to do a good timelapse.
posted by phirleh at 8:58 AM on September 24, 2009


With an Arduino and a GPS module you don't even need to be within range of the plane, it could fly itself.

Except the fun would be in flying it yourself.
posted by pracowity at 9:01 AM on September 24, 2009


Duh, that's a very good point. You'd have to select the frames manually. I was thinking the software could handle the alignment, but even that would require a relatively stable background.
posted by Eideteker at 9:01 AM on September 24, 2009


geoff. -- the actual ITAR limits imposed by the US government is 60k feet AND 1,000 knots but most manufactures get it wrong and set the limit at 60k OR 1,000 knots. Very frustrating.

Here is a list of GPS modules that work above 60k. My high-altitude balloon + arduino project will use the Lassen iQ module.
posted by ChrisHartley at 4:32 PM on September 24, 2009


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