The Final Frontier... but it's not just for rocket scientists anymore. With increasing frequency, amateurs are
managing to launch platforms bearing payloads of cameras, GPS units, altimeters, thermometers, radios, cellphones,
along with various and sundry other gizmos into the lower atmosphere where the earth's curvature and the blackness
of space is readily apparent. This flight by father and son team Luke and Max Geissbuhler was launched from a
field in New York an amazingly simple craft with the following goal:
"In August 2010, we set out to send a
camera to space. The mission was to attach an HD video camera to a weather balloon and send it up into the upper
stratosphere to film the blackness beyond our earth. Eventually, the balloon will grow from lack of atmospheric
pressure, burst, and begin to fall.
"It would have to survive 100 mph winds, temperatures of 60 degrees
below zero, speeds of over 150 mph, and the high risk of a water landing. To retrieve the craft, it would need to
deploy a parachute, descend through the clouds and transmit a GPS coordinate to a cell phone tower. Then we have
to find it.
"Needless to say, there are a lot of variables to overcome."
It was a resounding
success with an ascent to 100,000', then a parachute descent into a tree just 25 miles away.
Here is an
idea for some budding entrepreneur: Create a line of amateur space exploration kits with varying degrees of
complexity. My guess is that it would catch on like the model rocketry craze of the 1960 space race era! You can
cut me in on the profits for supplying the idea.