High ALtitude Object

Helium Balloon Mission to Near-Space

By Alexei Karpenko

Flight 2

My project launched a payload with GPS, camera, sensors and communications to an altitude of 30km. I obtained most parts ready years ago, but only recently had time to finish it.

High altitude ballooning is an emerging hobby, since price of GPS and communications equipment has gotten quite low. It is an excellent hobby for people fascinated by space flight and telerobotics and has many learning aspects — from systems design to electronics design to software engineering. There is also an exciting risk factor, namely, that you could lose your precious electronics if something malfunctions. In this project, many of my interest and knowledge areas came together. Also, I have verified that the Earth is indeed round and that space is black.

— Alexei Karpenko

Mission at a glance:

Description Value
Launch Date 2007-10-08
Launch Time 17:22:30 UTC (13:22:30 local)
Launch Point 43.951532,-81.554507 near Lucknow, Ontario, Canada
Landing Time 19:21:20 UTC (15:21:20 local)
Landing Point 43.711977,-80.790952
Payload Mass ~1.5 kg
Balloon KCI 1200 Totex Sounding Balloon
Balloon Lift ~4.2 kg Gross, ~3 kg Net; with payload resulting in Free Lift of >1.4 kg
Helium Volume ~4.06 m3
Flight Trajectory halo2-pictures.kmz (with pictures), halo2-videos.kmz (with videos)
Highest Altitude Over 30 km
Sensors Temperature, Absolute Pressure
Camera Canon PowerShot A510 with tilt servo (2048x1536 pictures, 320x240 videos)
Camera Shots 269 pictures, 58 videos (30 seconds each)
Battery LiSO2, 5 cells in series resulting in 15V, operating time (8-16 hours)
Main Computer Verdex ARM single-board computer, 600MHz, USB host
Communications GM862-GPS cellular module with SiRF III GPS and Python interpreter, 900MHz XTend Modem
Parachute 48" Military Surplus Parachute, theoretical descend rate of about 20km/h



The hardware consisted of a redundant communications and computer system with sensors, servo and camera.

The first communications system consisted of MaxStream XTend — a long-range 900MHz radio transceiver — connected to a Verdex 600MHz single-board ARM computer via serial port. The second communications system was a Telit GM862-GPS cellular module with built-in GPS and built-in python interpreter.

GM862-GPS module was a self-sufficient GPS tracker that would accept requests via SMS and send responses via SMS as well. It also monitored latitude and longitude and performed a payload cutdown when they went over the constraints. That was to prevent landing in a lake, since I am surrounded by them.

Verdex single-board computer controlled the camera, logged GPS positions and sensor data and communicated with the ground via the 900MHz radio modem.

An Atmel ATmega32 microcontroller was used to control two relays (cutdown and camera power), read temperature sensor via SPI, read pressure sensor via ADC and control camera tilt servo. It was connected to the Verdex via serial port. One pin was connected to GM862-GPS so that the module could request a cutdown.

Camera used was a Canon PowerShot A510. Flight 1 used USB to remotely capture pictures from the Verdex and save them on the USB key as well as scale them down for ground downlinking. Unfortunately this system was not very reliable and broke on that flight at an altitude of 6km. So for this flight (Flight 2), I decided to wire the Verdex directly to camera buttons (via GPIO pins) and use electrical signal to "press them." That also had an advantage because I could switch the camera to video mode. The disadvantage was that pictures could no longer be downlinked, since they were stored on a 4GB SD card inserted into the camera. As a fail-safe, camera was regularly restarted by cutting power via a relay.

System Overview
This is actually the system as flown on Flight 1. Flight 2 hardware has the following changes:
  • Camera controlled via buttons (power, focus, shoot, movie mode) and not USB anymore
  • Second relay added to regularly cycle power to the camera (anti-crash measure)
  • Switched camera to Canon A510 and added 3V power converter
  • Removed USB hub and connected USB memory key directly


GM862-GPS ran a python script that would accept SMS messages requesting GPS position and reply with position also using SMS. The script is based on nick84's code with bug fixes, modifications and additional commands. The commands that the script accepted were: request GPS position, cutdown the payload, cancel cutdown, restart GPS, restart module.

Unfortunately, the SiRF III GPS chip of GM862-GPS breaks at an altitude over 24km as noticed with Flight 1 which was nearly lost because of that bug. I tried to reflash SiRF III firmware before Flight 2 by soldering to the internal SiRF binary port (Port A) but was unsucessful (more on that later). So I just added automatic rebooting of the GPS module into the Python script when there has been no fix for over 10 minutes. Also, a couple of failure modes were detected — for example, 3D fix, but 0 satellites (this was the failure mode for Flight 1). Because of this code, the payload was not lost (but the GPS stopped working when the payload was above 24km).

The Verdex ran a few shell scripts as well as custom programs. One custom program (gpslog) would talk to gpsd and log GPS position to a file. Programs temperature and altitude would talk to the ATmega32 to return sensor status from the temperature sensor and the pressure sensor. The camera script controlled the taking of pictures and tilting of camera. It would also restart the camera periodically as a fail-safe.

Communication with Verdex took place via shell over the 900MHz radio modem. It was just a regular linux terminal.

The ground software consisted of a C# program running on a Laptop with Windows XP. It communicated with a cellphone via bluetooth to send and receive SMS to/from the payload. It also communicated with the ground 900Mhz modem. The retrieved position was shown on Google Earth via a program called GooPS. The ground software also connected to a bluetooth GPS receiver and forwarded the position to Google Earth via GooPS. That enabled to see positions of both the payload and the car in Google Earth. As a bonus, the software was also able to forward positions via WiFi to other chase cars so that they could follow the action.


Flight trajectory was predicted by the excellent University of Wyoming's Balloon Trajectory program. It grabs up-to-date wind data for different altitudes and is able to produce a predicted flight trajectory for Google Earth. From Flight 1 I already knew that it was pretty accurate.

Launch was very smooth, because our team was already experienced from the previous launches. We launched from a farm about 110km from home. That's because of the direction of jetstream — if we would have launched from home, it would have landed in a lake.

Flight time was just a bit over 2 hours and I didn't have contact with the capsule most of the time. I think I need to use a directional yagi antenna instead of the omni-directional high-gain antenna that I used. Cellphone connection was lost pretty early on, 900MHz radio worked to an altitude of 5km or so. After the capsule landed, I received an SMS with position and we went there and retrieved it. It was a farmer's field — we asked for permission to retrieve the capsule from his property.

When we got close to the capsule, we saw that it landed pretty hard. The parachute was very entangled with what remained of the burst balloon. It turns out that the Verdex became disconnected, but the GM862-GPS module worked fine. Later, I calculated impact speed to be over 60km/h. Luckily all hardware survived and works fine. This is because the padding was very good — thick layers of styrofoam were used in important places, components were hot-glued and separated with styrofoam and the comparatively heavy battery was at the bottom and strongly fixed.

Below is a video of the launch and retrieval.

Download Video





360 degree panorama. Auto-stitched from over 100 video frames using Kolor Autopano Pro.
Stereographic Panorama
Stereographic panorama. Auto-stitched from over 100 video frames using Kolor Autopano Pro.


Altitude Graph
This graphs shows how the altitude changed with mission time. Since GPS module stopped working above 24 km, an exponential projection was used to calculate real altitude from barometric altitude.
Pressure Graph
This graphs shows how the barometric pressure changed with mission time. Pressure was very close to zero when the balloon reached 30km.
Temperature Graph
This graphs shows how external temperature changed with mission time. The middle part of the graph shows temperature rising in the tropopause. This is caused by poor heat conductivity of the thin atmosphere. As the sun heats up the object, it cannot lose heat quickly enough.


This launch was very successful. Things to improve for next one: reflash SiRF III chip so that it works at an altitude over 24km, use yagi antenna instead of omni-directional antenna, improve parachute system.

Contrary to this flight, parachute worked well in Flight 1. Impact speed was 27km/h and a witness described the landing being smooth. But with this flight, Flight 2, the balloon didn't burst as cleanly as in Flight 1, so there was a higher chance for it to tangle. I think I just need to add a tensioner (i.e. a ring) underneath the parachute for the next flight to fix this problem.

Special thanks to:
My family (my dad, Ivan, Alexander and Kate), Alex Kennberg and Richard for launch support operations
#highaltitude on FreeNode for advice regarding balloon inflation

Next flight should be in summer 2008. I plan to fix the radio systems so that uninterrupted contact is maintained.

— Alexei Karpenko


Many more pictures and videos were captured:

Flight trajectory for Google Earth:
halo2-pictures.kmz (with embedded pictures)
halo2-videos.kmz (with embedded videos)

Excel Files:
burst.xls — balloon lift prediction (thanks to Steve Randall)
analysis.xls — flight analysis (data, graphs, etc...)

GM862-GPS code with 24km crash prevention (original code by nick84)


Q:Why only a 3 megapixel camera?
A:Megapixels are a myth. More than 3 megapixels do not make sense for a camera sensor of that size and would actually be worse because smaller area per pixel results in more noise and fewer color levels. Now with a DSLR, more is better. But for this project a 3 megapixel camera is perfect and much better than a >=5 megapixel one. It would have been nice to do hi-def video and a separate video camera might be an idea for the next launch.

Q:Why not make the parachute system unnecesarily complex?
A:This parachute system has been tested on Flight 1 and worked fine. The problem can be mitigated by a tensioner ring and by a longer distance between balloon and parachute.

Q:Isn't it a danger for manned aircraft?
A:Even though the chance of collision is very small, there was an aluminium foil inside the capsule for radar reflection. Control towers should have been able to track it. As for legality, as far as I can tell, it's permitted for that weight without requirements to notify any authority.

Q:Haven't this been done before?
A:Yes, like I said it's an emerging hobby which is great to see. I am very impressed by other launches some of which are more complex than mine. I have been following other people's progress and have still alot to learn. There are a couple of high altitude clubs and societies that you can join. Initially most launches were done by licensed radio amateurs, but now license-free solutions are readily available (at least in Canada/USA). I tried to do something unique, so a tilted camera taking both videos and pictures was used.

Q:How much did it cost?
A:The system that is presented is a little over-engineered for historical reasons as well as for future expansion and test purposes. It's possible to build a system for $500 with just a cellphone link and a microcontroller, but make sure that coverage is good where you intend to launch and use a good cellphone antenna.


Showing 465 comments.

monster says:
2007-10-22 19:10:28


sYx66 says:
2007-10-23 10:06:19


Arialia says:
2007-10-23 11:29:40


I like very much what you make ( Dserial, Robotds and this :) )

omg says:
2007-10-23 11:41:45

I put the news on playeradvance.
Your work is unbelieveble!
I'm waiting for Summer 2008 to see your next flight!

For the next level you will send your RobotDS on the Moon? :)

omg says:
2007-10-23 11:51:13

Finally, your camera is dead or all is perfect?

Sto says:
2007-10-23 12:44:16

Simply amazing !
Thanks for sharing. :)

3dotter says:
2007-10-23 14:25:55

Great! Such nice presentation as well!

Robocop says:
2007-10-23 15:55:28

Simply wonderful! How do you find such ideas?


|greatteacher| says:
2007-10-23 17:31:22

I'm agree with robocop( ;) ) , simply wonderfull !
It's amazing guy !

Thanks for sharing this ;)

Ludo6431 says:
2007-10-24 11:06:43

Very good, excellent, you have very good ideas.
Good work, and thanks to share your knowledge, and feelings.

Ricky3134 says:
2007-10-25 17:22:54

Very good photos of the space ! It's a very good work ! Very beautiful ^^

Turkkish says:
2007-10-26 05:54:13

That is very amazing. I really like it. As for your parachute problem, I would look into attaching lightweight propeller blades. As it falls, it will rotate and slow the descent much like a helicopter. That would make a good back-up in case of a failed parachute.

Matt says:
2007-10-26 06:43:06

Thanks, great photos and an inspiring experiment. Looking forward to your next launch, please keep me informed.

StephB says:
2007-10-26 09:57:36

I think I can imagine how exciting this must have been!
Also lookink forward to your next space mission.

tekilaz says:
2007-10-26 10:00:07

Really good stuff, And I'm waiting the nextime!!
Great Job guy!

David Barker says:
2007-10-26 11:30:33

Wow!!! That's immense... makes me want to do something like it now heh. Great work guys!

ben says:
2007-10-26 12:02:24

i wanted to see the pop of the balloon!

Craig Harris says:
2007-10-26 12:26:56

Beautiful work!
In the unlikely event that you haven't heard of Joseph Kittinger, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Kittinger

Nobody says:
2007-10-26 17:06:54

Cool. My Dad used to work on high-altitude balloons for Lawrence Berkeley Lab in the 1960s (HAPPE - the High Altitude Particle Physics Experiment) -- glad to see folks doing this stuff again.

Ryan Lenethen says:
2007-10-26 17:49:20

One of the coolest things I have seen in a while. Great description of build, and nice results with pictures. Makes me want to try something like that. Well done! Makes you think of what you could do to go higher! Attach small rockets to fire at 30k or something Woooo!

johan says:
2007-10-26 18:05:02

To correct for the descent problem, I would suggest a rotating propeller system, this will stabilize descent and get rid of the horrible parachute.

Kevin says:
2007-10-26 18:42:54

Amazing.. You inspire us all.

Greg says:
2007-10-26 19:06:00

I think you're my new hero. Amazing.

Timmy242 says:
2007-10-26 19:15:02

You have restored my faith in humanity...in Canada. ;) Seriously, that was amazing stuff. Truly inspiring and should be taught as a science experiment in every elementary/high school!

Bob says:
2007-10-26 19:15:51

At the risk of being unoriginal : damn, this is one of the coolest things I've ever seen. I've considered model rocketry photography but it seemed too error-prone to be worth it for the 1 decent photo you might eventually get, this makes a lot more sense.

Rick. says:
2007-10-26 19:26:04

Science continues to rule. Added to long list of heroes.

Jennifer Rodrigu says:
2007-10-26 19:26:05

Wow simply amazing!!!!!!!!!!!

Valery35 says:
2007-10-26 19:28:49

Замечательно :)
Я надеюсь вам будет интересно в http://pictearth.ning.com/
Модуль для работы с Canon один из ближайших к разработке.
I hope you can read this text :)

Kacela says:
2007-10-26 19:32:51

Very cool. If you stay with the parachute for controlling the descent in the future, how about actually placing the the parachute within the ballon, prior to filling the balloon - when deployed, all remants of the popped balloon would probably still tangle in the line, but below the fully deployed parachute.

esecallum says:
2007-10-26 19:41:42

I live in Alabama and we are fed up of people wasting our money on stupid things like this You should be fighting in irak and stopping terrorists from attacking America instead of sending stupid balloons up.

We have AIR FORCE to take pictures.

We Americans must stop muslin terrorists..We must fght for justice,democracy and civisation and stop forigners despoiling this great country.


Jeff says:
2007-10-26 19:46:38

Impressive. If that was done by nasa it would cost millions.

dube says:
2007-10-26 20:02:19

Esecallum speaks with an intelligence only a mother could love.

This is brilliant, and it's because of innovation like this that we have the capability to defend our country.

Keep up the good work Alexei. Way to contribute to our "civisation".

josh france says:
2007-10-26 20:03:14

Magnifique! Im really amazed, really good job guys, carry on!

Randall says:
2007-10-26 20:12:23

Well, I myself just got very dizzy watching each of the videos...how about setting up a LIVE webstream feed so we all can see this in 'real' time?? when you relaunch next summer.

Gary says:
2007-10-26 20:21:35

Fantastic project and very successful too! Your accomplishment demonstrates so many of the meteorological concepts I use in my career and would be an excellent instruction for students too!

It would be most beneficial in your next launch to either review/post the upper-air charts and RAOB sounding for the day or have someone advise of the weather conditions. By comparing your data to the analyzed conditions, you can compare the performance and accuracy of both your instruments and the readings of the day.

Awesome job!

Admirer says:
2007-10-26 20:45:20

Very nice outcome with this project. It was obviously thoroughly and exhaustively planned. I am impressed. As for esecallum's comments: His brilliance is one reason why our soon-to-be-merged nations are so advanced. And by the way, the AIR FORCE of which you speak is a main reason why you are so fired-up about "terrorism" - if they had been allowed to do their job on 9/11, your comment would be moot. Hope you catch up. . . soon.

Great job Alexei!

jon says:
2007-10-26 20:46:03

sorry esecallum,

Dont think you are fooling anyone...alabama rednecks dont sound anything like that.


So it looks like it travelled about 74.8 km? Great Job.

as says:
2007-10-26 20:52:14


esecallum says:
2007-10-26 20:58:14

How will balloons stop terrorists?

tell me.

they are slow and easily puntured and EASILY SHOT DOWN..


it can fall to the earth killing people.

last year in the woods a balloon came down and metal frame nearly killed someone.

our air force is the best.we are the top nation...we dont want photos of empty air...

we need to stop muslins from crossing the borders.we need men on the ground..

we need to be united against terrorism and muslin threats.


Alan says:
2007-10-26 21:00:21

That was pretty cool. If you do the experiment at night or sunset though, the pictures of space would be phenomonal

escallum says:
2007-10-26 21:42:32

[Comment deleted by the administrator.]

Kurt says:
2007-10-26 21:45:31

Very impressive. The only thing that would make it more impressive is if you went up in the balloon yourself.

John says:
2007-10-26 21:57:55

How much did all the hardware cost? This is so I can decide whether it's worth doing myself.

esecallum says:
2007-10-26 22:22:13

[Comment deleted by the administrator.]

Christopher Kirk says:
2007-10-26 22:32:15

Have you considered collaborating with the Society for Amateur Scientists? (See: http://www.sas.org/ .)

Raymond says:
2007-10-26 22:46:21

Your work made me think about Steve Fossett and his solo balloon flight around the Earth. We must all hope that evidence of Mr. Fossett is found soon. To see your project unfold, while scrolling down on the computer screen, was a trip-in-itself.

Raddy B says:
2007-10-26 23:27:57

While the pictures you got were quite impressive, I'd really like to say thank you for including audio. Obviously I know that it's just going to sound like wind but it's neat to be able to hear it, too.

Thank you! :c >

Bryan Foster says:
2007-10-26 23:58:32

I'd just like to comment that not all Alabamians feel the same way as esecallum does.

Btw Ese, muslin is something photographers use as a backdrop, MORON.

Someguy says:
2007-10-27 00:12:47

For the spinning: you could consider using gyroscopes.

There's a passive gyroscope that I believe is called a "wingeron". It's outfitted on the little winglets of Air to Air missiles. It's basically a short and wide cylindrical object that rotates passively with the passing wind and stabilizes the rocket.

You'll obviously need to do some testing of the idea.

Also, kite tails (the long frilly kind) are impressively good at stabilizing. But again, you need wind.

And finally, and I think most realistically, a micro-torque swivel. That and also non twisting rope (meaning that it has to be braided rope), will probably keep it simple stupid enough that it might actually work.

Great stuff, btw!

scott says:
2007-10-27 00:39:28

Brilliant work. We live in such a great age that people can do very high tech projects like this relatively cheaply.

I was wondering if an internal gyroscope might help prevent the camera from spinning so much? Probably not I guess. Anyway congratulations on the launch.

Scott in Tokyo

Sam Jacob says:
2007-10-27 00:43:47

Great Work. Hope you will become someone great!!!

Rich in Va says:
2007-10-27 02:52:04

Outstanding. We need more private, non-commercial, non-government inventiveness like this. Can't wait for your next flight.....

sabik says:
2007-10-27 03:39:46

Jeff: "If that was done by nasa it would cost millions."

There's a big difference between just going up and down 30km (or even 100km) and actually achieving orbit. Once you get out of the atmosphere, one of the key formulas is exponential.

There probably is some inefficiency at NASA, it's a large, government organisation. However, it makes no sense to compare orbital and lunar flights to this; it's a different league altogether.

That said, this flight is pretty impressive. The technology to achieve this is now within the reach of a hobbyist... very cool!

The Goreacle says:
2007-10-27 03:45:27

The earth is a baby. It has a fever. I'm here to save it.

You took a picture of my baby without my permission.

Unless you immediately hand over the sum of one million carbon credits to my, er, George Soros, er, the UN's department of ecological justice, the full weight of my global geo-political inlfuence will come down upon you, hard.

Are you aware that I am adored and worshipped by millions? This was proven by my recent award of the Nobel.

The entire population of the earth will thank me someday.


innocent says:
2007-10-27 04:05:07


one of my future pet projects was to send a self-made balloon in to space, but seeing you do it gives me confidence.

Steve says:
2007-10-27 04:19:49

More rope between the balloon and 'chute... do you have to pop it, or can you just cut it loose? Anyway, great job.

Jeff says:
2007-10-27 04:56:06

Hi Sabik,
I am not depreciating any great jobs done by nasa.
Everyone knows the exagerated progect costs from small to large.
What nasa acheved so great in the past 30 years? Pictures of mars? Many theories but non conclusive.
Space shuttle is still the same what I used to see in the 1980s.By now they should land on the moon as if they are landing in JFK with all those billions since the moon landing.Goverment should fund more private sectors.
Yes I must admit that the fist thing it came to my mind was
"If THIS experiment (not more not less) was done by nasa it would cost millions."

Ron says:
2007-10-27 05:00:38

Rather than going to the trouble of installing a Yagi antenna why not reposition the existing antenna so that it mounts horizontally rather than the present vertical?
That way the main lobe of the antenna is pointing down at the ground rather than the horizon. When it is vertical, very little energy will radiate underneath it.

wondering says:
2007-10-27 05:12:19

I bet you would need permit to do launches like this. Imagine if a commercial jetliner would crash with your gadgets and drop.

logicalnot says:
2007-10-27 05:15:57

Congratulation. Great work. Very inspiring !

ron says:
2007-10-27 05:23:40

ps. A yagi will give you more gain but the pattern will be much narrower. Unless the payload is perfectly still the main energy lobe will be bobbing everywhere and will cause dropouts most likely. The fat gain pattern of a horizontally mounted antenna will still cover for the effects of the moving payload.

shaunewe says:
2007-10-27 05:27:57

wow that was certainly amazing! i'm sure you enjoyed the whole experience!

Norsedude says:
2007-10-27 05:38:31

Our local ham-radio club has been doing such missions too. Interesting to see, how your measurements compare to ours :) However, you had a much better video equipment.


dennis says:
2007-10-27 07:02:21

Awesome, just awesome.
Congratulations on your succesful project!

esecallum says:
2007-10-27 07:07:00

[Comment deleted by the administrator. Reason: Off-topic.]

Kp says:
2007-10-27 07:23:02

@esecallum - funny stuff, dude. Why don't you get back to your TV and chips, and let the rest of us alone?

Metagg says:
2007-10-27 08:03:59

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hj says:
2007-10-27 08:27:33

Just epic..

Fish4 says:
2007-10-27 08:41:50

Simply the _best_ thing I have ever seen on the internet.

Darwin says:
2007-10-27 09:13:34

Does the existence of an esecallum alone not prove that the American race is far from advanced? Or is esecallum an anti-American Muslim whose mission is to make Americans look like complete idiots? (If so, well done 'forigner'!)

big-x says:
2007-10-27 09:17:27

your parachute problem is curable. when the gov did high altitude jump from 100K feet they knew they would encounter the problem you had. what they did is the guy who jumped deployed a small chute to stabalize himself and then when he got dow to a reasonable altitude he deployed a regular chute/ if you do the samy thing you'll solve your problem

Xavier says:
2007-10-27 09:31:14

Excellent work. Very well done in every aspects.
Good luck for your next launch.

James says:
2007-10-27 09:42:21

Whoa, I want to do something like this, what an awesome project :)

James says:
2007-10-27 09:44:15

Oh and did anyone else think of [i]Boards Of Canada - Dayvan Cowboy[/i]? :)

justin says:
2007-10-27 09:58:34

i wonder - if you attached a small rocket with a minature satellite on board, could you launch it from the the balloon when it reaches 30km up and would it have enough velocity to go into orbit?

or would the physics just not work out?

very cool project Alexei! totally awesome. the sense of satisfication that YOU have taken pictures of space yourself from a device you built yourself must be immense.well done. look forward to your next launch.

justin says:
2007-10-27 09:59:45

"Oh and did anyone else think of [i]Boards Of Canada - Dayvan Cowboy[/i]? :)"

yeah. thats exactly what came to my mind as well. should be the theme music for Alexei's next launch!

justin says:
2007-10-27 10:12:22

"What nasa acheved so great in the past 30 years? Pictures of mars? "

off the top of my head:
the two Mars Rovers (which are still operating)
Cassini (orbiting Saturn)
Huygens probe (landed on Titan)
Galileo (orbited Jupiter)
New Horizons (en route to Pluto)
Hubble space telescope
Magellan (Venus)
Messenger (en route to Mercury)
Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Pathfinder
Viking 1 and 2 (Mars)
Mars Odyssey (currently operational)
Mars Reconaissance Orbiter (currently operational)
Dawn (en route to Vesta asteroid)
Phoenix (en route to Mars)

Michael says:
2007-10-27 10:15:56

Wow... that's so cool!

Tracy says:
2007-10-27 10:29:39


Kaffir-Jussi says:
2007-10-27 10:31:24

OK :) The next target: Ocean depths! ;)

Mostly Harmless says:
2007-10-27 10:53:10

Amateur balloon hits 30km with pics... Reddit's web site is a pure time waster by design. This morning I saw this link. It leads to a web site that shows how a hobbyist built a kit and put it on a high altitude balloon. According to his sensors he hit about 30km and has pictures to back...

Martin Bahl says:
2007-10-27 11:05:52

You guys rock! This is like a dream come true.

Stuart Eugene Th says:
2007-10-27 11:22:31

Cool! You're lucky to be living in Canada -- here in the U.S. the Homeland Security gendarmes would have carted you off by now!

Brady says:
2007-10-27 11:25:50

Hey, incredible set. I love seeing people doing science like it should be done! You know building a kit and providing it to schools for science experiments would be a cost effective and interesting way to get students interested in high altitude/space research. As far as esecallum, I am in Afghanistan working with "THE MUSLINS" and you know it has been a great experience. It's ignorance we need to fight and what better way than science?

SEO Test says:
2007-10-27 11:34:09

This was an amazing journey. Good luck next time!

Bill says:
2007-10-27 11:46:32

Hey what about airplanes, do you worry about it getting sucked into a jet intake and bringing down an airliner? Pretty unlikely, but stranger things have happened! I like your project but hafta worry about every little thing. Maybe you could notify air traffic control before you launch and get a window.

ct says:
2007-10-27 11:56:18

Very nice project. And you're lucky to be living in Canada -- if you tried this in germany, you will sent to prison immediately..

James says:
2007-10-27 11:56:58

Great work! I love it :)

esecallum says:
2007-10-27 12:04:33

[Comment deleted by the administrator. Reason: Off-topic.]

esecallum. says:
2007-10-27 12:04:57

[Comment deleted by the administrator. Reason: Off-topic.]

malikah says:
2007-10-27 12:13:20

Very beautiful - nice and quiet up there. But please check for safety of overpassing airliners - if that thing gets sucked into the turbine, you could be responsible for the deaths of 100's of people.

Jeff says:
2007-10-27 13:18:44

Justin, I do not wish to debate on this issue.

I just wnat to say to these guys WELL DONE and hope we see more.

Al - CA says:
2007-10-27 13:41:14

Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly was the purpose of this effort? Was it to set an altitude record for a balloon? Or, setting up for an attempt to eventually have your balloon achieve an earth orbit? Would that be a "first"? Really would like to know.
The balloon burst above 30km, Perhaps a sturdier envelope? How about a "side saddle" af two smaller balloons attached and nested folded against the sides of the main balloon and vented internally into the main balloon through a pressure switch which would open when internal pressure within the main balloon approaches blowout thereby bleeding off into the attached twins and so reducing that internal balloon pressure to allow for additional altitude gain? Would that work?

Shaddack says:
2007-10-27 14:08:19

Great project!

Idea for further launches: put a Geiger counter on-board, measure the rise of ionizing radiation with altitude. Same with an ultraviolet radiation sensor, if possible in all three UVA/UVB/UVC bands. Also you may try what a humidity sensor will do, though at the higher altitudes it may not show much.

A very interesting measurement would be the concentration of ozone and atomic oxygen. For ozone, the sensors can be acquired from e.g. www.microchemical.com - not sure what with atomic O.

Esecallum the Bellicose, why aren't *you* in Iraq? Or at least learning and/or practicing some technology (and spelling) to make your homeland greater so your R&D wouldn't have to be done by immigrants? The course you're on now leads in long run to handing the global dominance over to China.

Jawa says:
2007-10-27 15:58:58

Congratulations! This is very inspiring; thanks for sharing the info. It makes us all smarter.

KirkH says:
2007-10-27 16:24:54

Some long distance, low budget wireless networking advice... Use the Buffalo HP routers, best bang for buck, great amp/radios. Flash with DD-WRT so you can boost the power and setup 2 in bridge mode. Use a great big 24d dbi parabolic/dish antenna ($60) on the ground, I've had amazing results from the top of big buildings with line of sight, you'll need an adapter to connect a big antenna.

I imagine you could dangle a lower dbi parabolic (i'll be moving around up there) from the bottom and keep a pretty decent link established. Using the above stuff I managed a solid 20Mbit (good enough for Hi-Def!) link over a couple of miles.

Jerry says:
2007-10-27 16:32:37

My apologies for Esecallum. I live in Alabama too, and we aren't all like that.

This is a fantastic project... thanks for sharing it with us!

Eric says:
2007-10-27 16:49:06

Wow. Well done. I knew I was keeping my old digital camera for a reason. Im not going let living in the flightpath for Heathrow Airport hold me back

MarkG says:
2007-10-27 17:15:43

Great work, and thank you very much for sharing! I wonder if a more rounded payload with a single lateral stabilizing fin would keep it from spinning too much? Maybe you don't want to diverge from the Canon A series, which apparently has performed for you so far, but you might consider looking for a wider-angle digicam for next time. Keep it up!

Paulo says:
2007-10-27 17:35:18

Amazing! Cool!

Fzzt says:
2007-10-27 17:35:34

Thanks for taking the time to share the adventure.

ben says:
2007-10-27 17:37:17

Hey. Great Project.

I suggest using Hydrogen gas next time - it will go up faster and will be able to carry more weight.

Also use a fish eye lens so you can see more. You could maybe have separate dedicated video and still frame cameras, though this might weigh too much.

As for worrying about jet airliners or people wanting you to not do this because it breaks "codes", forget it. You aren't doing anything wrong and you are improving the knowledge of humans.

Also, how much did this rig cost? I would like to know because I might try this myself. I live in Michigan close to you, so I have ideas of a trans-Huron lake mission. Hopefully there will be enough wind.

mark says:
2007-10-27 17:42:16

One question:

What caused the balloon to break? Expansion due to altitude? The "Cutdown" relay?

Jon Vaughan says:
2007-10-27 17:58:31

This is incredible! Really inspiring, good luck with the next attempt.

Random Internet says:
2007-10-27 18:12:10


Congratulations on a fine piece of amateur science! Truly admirable and inspiring.

I do wonder though, about the possibility of a collision with plane (small or large) during flight. Are there any ways to mitigate or reduce such a possibility? What about some kind of flight transponder or electronic beacon? Is there such a device? Or is it actually necessary at all? I wonder what Weather Balloons use?

Keep up the good work.

Wrongway says:
2007-10-27 18:17:41

I appreciate that you have found out that the Earth is indeed round and that space is indeed black. All government efforts to convince us of that have been futile, as all government agencies are not trustworthy.
Amazing project. No need to prove anything. The idea of the parachute inside the balloon looks good. When researching, there is plenty of history and science behind telemetry. Have fun with stage three. I'll be looking out for it!
As for collateral damage by bringing down an airliner...screw 'em. They paid their money, they take their chances.

Amr Malik says:
2007-10-27 18:32:51

Excellent work! Bravo!

Matt in Denver says:
2007-10-27 18:49:44

Glad you've recovered from being Boingboing'd earlier. This is excellent, and I sincerely appreciate your sharing this. My kids loved it, too.

Darwin says:
2007-10-27 19:23:52


By the way, are you still selling that land in Pakistan?

I could sure use it for some balloon testing.

Antinius Block says:
2007-10-27 21:13:33

Hey, Alexei! Wow!

Esecallum--if this person actually exists and has such "thoughts" is a dunce and is of no consequence.

You, however, have added beauty and wonder to the world.

A handshake in thought to you.

natrium42 says:
2007-10-27 21:29:32

I left a few posts of esecallum, because he's somewhat amusing... Had to write a blacklist system just for him... Trolls exist everywhere (and should be ignored). Alabama is a great state, the troll does not represent it.

Thanks for the suggestions. It should be possible to test an anti-torque system on the ground when there's wind. I did expect to see spin before the launch, but it wasn't entirely clear how pronounced it would be.

@Raddy B:
Audio makes it more dramatic, doesn't it? :)
BTW, the clicking noise is the servo. I should have calibrated it better before launch.

I have visited your site before, it's very cool! I like the number of sensors that you used. Reading in German is easier, though, without the poor automatic translation :)

It needs to be more than a few miles, since the balloon not only 18 miles up but there's also horizontal distance. Do you think about 30 miles LOS is possible?

A separate video camera would be a good idea. It could also be used to take thumbnails for downlinking to the ground while in-flight. The total cost of parts in the picture is a bit over $1k. A big chunk is for the XTend radio modem which did not work well for Flight 2 (with that antenna setup). Also the Verdex computer is not really necessary unless you want to scale images down and control a camera via USB. So a system can be built for $500.

The balloon expands as pressure drops, and when it expands past the limit, it bursts. The manufacturer provided the diameter at burst and there's a XLS provided with the calculations of the altitude when that occurs. Please look under Data for the Excel sheet.

orangewarp says:
2007-10-27 23:29:06

Very beautiful. You know, it is hard to imagine space as so close to us - reachable by a simple balloon but it is. As a matter of fact, we ARE in space right now eh? On the giant blue balloon. Really great work. Thanks!

Jim says:
2007-10-28 01:43:59

OMFG!! We live on a massive sphere floating around in outer space!!!!!!!!!!!!

John says:
2007-10-28 02:34:08

QUOTE: esecallum
"I live in Alabama and we are fed up of people wasting our money on stupid things like this You should be fighting in irak and stopping terrorists from attacking America instead of sending stupid balloons up.

We have AIR FORCE to take pictures.

We Americans must stop muslin terrorists..We must fght for justice,democracy and civisation and stop forigners despoiling this great country.


Umm for one, Canadian citizens arent wasting the United States money on sending a helium baloon into the upper atmosphere. Number two, Canada also has an air force. Planes cant reach 30,000 meters in the air. Only a rocket or a shuttle can.
Lastly, all terrorists arent Islamic (Muslim). By the way what is up with your grammar? Anyways, Great job. Cant wait for the next project!

sabik says:
2007-10-28 03:21:40

@justin: "if you attached a small rocket [...] would it have enough velocity to go into orbit? or would the physics just not work out?"

AFAICT, the physics wouldn't work out very well.

Even if the balloon got you all the way up to LEO altitude (100km rather than 30km), the horizontal velocity of LEO is some 7.6-7.8km/s. Realistic exhaust velocities are 2.5km/s for solid fuel rocket, 3.5km/s for liquid. Rocket equation: 1-exp(-7.7/2.5) is 95%, 1-exp(-7.7/3.5) is 89%. So, to a first approximation, your rocket would have to be 95% or 89% fuel; 5% or 11% casing, engines, fuel-tank and payload. Making a fuel-tank that masses 8x or 19x less than its contents is a challenge, never mind allowing for payload on top of that...

Essentially, what you're suggesting is a two-stage system: first stage balloon, second stage rocket. Naturally, the complexity of the system rises - there are now twice as many things to go wrong, plus extra ones in the interaction. Igniting a rocket by remote or automatic control in near-vacuum is not something a hobbyist can test, for instance.

You could make it a three-stage system (1st balloon, rocket for 2nd and 3rd), which would improve the figures but increase the complexity even more. Or you could skip the balloon and just go rockets for all stages, the conventional way. Cargo launch to orbit is competitive enough that if balloons were advantageous, they'd be used.

We need better rocket engines.

The Admiral says:
2007-10-28 05:56:06

Thanks. Keep up the great work no matter what people say.

Dox says:
2007-10-28 07:21:35

Thank you , magnific photo...

dancingcaveman says:
2007-10-28 07:38:32

Fantastic!!! Simply inspiring!! The video at 30,489M simply took my breath away!

Vince says:
2007-10-28 14:01:45


How dare you conduct freakin awesome experiments in Canada while America is at war!

For every balloon you send up, God creates 1,000 more terrorists we have to fight.

Joking aside, this stuff is cool as hell. Looking forward to anything else you guys do in the future!

Cristianov says:
2007-10-28 14:29:55

WoW super Good job, good photos, good project, Congratulations..... and Beautiful girl ... :D bye and good luck

Reno says:
2007-10-28 14:53:55

There is a simple solution for dealing with the spin.. A piazo gyro with a short boom and rotor will completely resolve it. Drop by a hobby shop that sells remote control plans and 'copters, and look into the 'copter stuff. A very small and light battery op motor spinning a 'copter tail rotor with the gyro controlling the blade pitch will make that problem go away. example here: http://www.hobby4less.com/indexa.php?cPath=44&sort=2a&page=2

A really cheap (and effective) way to get what you need for this is to just grab a 'copter from ebay. Should be able to get everything you need for under 50 bucks.

Cool project, keep up the good work!

Andreas says:
2007-10-28 15:59:31



I got vertigo just looking at some of the photos and videos.
Great project!!

inbost says:
2007-10-28 16:13:20

Awesome !

Frank says:
2007-10-28 17:27:50

Congratulations! This is awsome! Thank you for doing this an sharing all the data with us! 30km hight! 3 time the heigh of a jet liner.

I wonder how the batteries can still work at -45C.
Also the parachute seem small. Is it necssary to have a small parachute for preventing the thing to drift for possibly thousand of kilometers during descent?

Once again congratulation and thanks you!

natrium42 says:
2007-10-28 18:48:11

Lithium Sulfur Dioxode batteries are often used in extreme conditions and are specifically suited for extreme cold. They are used in the military, emergency beacons, etc... Operating temperatures are -60 C to +70 C. I put all electronics into styrofoam for protection against cold. The electronics also heat up, so everything should have been within operating ranges. Should have used an internal temperature sensor...

You don't want the parachute to be too big because descent would take longer and it would travel farther. Time of descent with Flight 2 was about 30 minutes. Here is a descent rate calculator:
Plug in 1.5 kg for mass and 48" for diameter. You should get about 20 km/h which is a pretty good value.


pad says:
2007-10-28 20:51:12

Truly inspiring.

Might I make two suggestions, mostly aesthetically insired?

Consider using a UV filter on the camera - will cut down on "haze" greatly, and make for much clearer high altitude pictures.

How about a launch timed to coincide with dusk or dawn? The images you get would be greatly enhanced - side light across the land would reveal relief, and the lighting effects you see on cloud formations could be extraordinary. Try timing things so that you hit your highest altitude at dawn (for that altitude). See the sun comes over the limb of the earth at 30,000m!

stratanova says:
2007-10-29 00:51:16

This is ingenious.

It should not be forgotten that people who start doing small projects like this are the people who do great things later in life. There is absolutely no point of comparing this with NASA or the Air Force any other entity. Take it for what it is... an ingenious project.

You are right up there with people like Edison and Graham Bell mate!

Congratulations from Sri Lanka!

Jorge Alves says:
2007-10-29 07:11:21

Well done! :)

Jogibr says:
2007-10-29 07:50:50

It's amazing, great work guys!

Eric says:
2007-10-29 10:38:22

Any plans for a manned flight?
How much does Esecallum weigh?

Geoff Pack says:
2007-10-29 11:12:46

Very Cool!
(and the photos are beautiful)

I was interested to see how full you inflated the balloon on launch - all photos I've seen of weather balloon launches have the ballon barely inflated at all on launch, presumably so it can expand much more and fly higher. Still, the world record for an unmanned balloon is 51.8 km, so you did incredibly well for such a small budget. I wonder how much higher you can go?


Jasinho says:
2007-10-29 11:53:40

Is there any risk involved to planes or people on the ground?

pad says:
2007-10-29 14:23:21

Life is risk.

I'm pretty sure the risk to others created here is less than the risk to others created by any one of us climbing into a car and driving a few miles.

Jeff Fletcher says:
2007-10-29 15:55:07

Nice work, really well documented. I love stuff like this.


Claude's Blog says:
2007-10-29 18:29:54

Projet: HALO2... Waat maachen jonk Leit aus Kanada, wann hinnen langweileg ass? Richteg, sie bastelen en riesegen Helium-Balon, klaacken eng Digitalkamera, en GPS-Sender drenner, an loosen daat ganzt op 30km Heischt fleien. D’Fotoen dono gesinn einfach mega aus....

Thermik says:
2007-10-29 19:59:19

Great idea and very good pictures/videos.
We can see, the earth is not SO big...

mauricio says:
2007-10-29 20:39:31

cara eu estou abismado com isso,parabens de cprao..

dave says:
2007-10-29 20:41:08

For extra payload protection, you may wish to switch from (expanded)Polystyrene to expanded polypropylene (EPP) foam as it is much more impact resistant, less brittle and springier. you can buy it in blocks or salvage it from computer shipping boxes, though monitors still seem to use EPS...
great project!

Gilvan Cruz says:
2007-10-29 23:19:34

Muito bom, Parabns!!!

Matheus Alves says:
2007-10-30 08:36:15

Congratulations for guy. I´m from Bebedouro - Sp -Brazil and this is the amazing fact what I´ve seem

Holger Schmitz says:
2007-10-30 10:27:17

Marvellous. Im very impressed of Your achievement! Thumbs up !

Silvio says:
2007-10-30 10:29:52

Keep the good work!!!
Some people can't see all possibilities from your project.

Fernando says:
2007-10-30 11:35:14

I Am Braziliam!!! Very Good Work, Extraordinary !!!

Michael (Switzer says:
2007-10-30 17:39:21

Hi there!
Really nice work! I love puctures where you can see the black space! If i was crazy enough i would take 20 baloons like this, a parachute and go up myself :) (a a lil gun to shoot the baloons when im too high :)
Love it. Thank you!

Greetz from Switzerland

Ah i dont talk nederland or what "Claude" is from..but i get it...
Translation of "Claudes Blog"
What are the people from Canada doin' when they're bored?
Right, they build a huge helium-baloon, put a digital-camera, and a GPS-sender on it and let this whole thing fly to an altidute of 30km. The Pictures just look amazing.

mtu_aerospace says:
2007-10-30 18:50:25

Hi! Congrats of the successful flight!

I am curious- why did you choose to bring the payload back blind? Have you or are you looking into guided recovery systems such as a parafoil or bladed system?


AnKh says:
2007-10-30 20:11:28

Excellent !!

good job

Cods says:
2007-10-31 07:07:27

Very impressive and amazing.

eligarf says:
2007-11-01 08:52:31


deeply impressed!
its amazing that all the instrumentation worked so well just styropored... conventional batteries at low temperature, camera at no pressure (there seem to be no tight "chambers" e.g. at the housing for the ccd, optics and such) also, there should be huge temperatur differences at the load (sun/shadow side)... the constant movement seems to be quite advantageous... even if the movies became a bit gyratory...
what would be the maximum altitude theoretical reachable with he-ballons anyways?
looking forward to the next steps...

asa says:
2007-11-01 18:18:03

[Comment deleted by the administrator. Reason: Troll.]

AL1 says:
2007-11-02 08:00:27

about esecallum : come on guys, what are the odds that such a moron would find a website like this one only 4 days after it's initial release ? he's a troll, a good one though ;)

anyway, great project, great web site too ! thanks for sharing

Konix says:
2007-11-02 10:39:26

vraiment magnifique ! Felicitation, trs belles images !

NoiseBoy says:
2007-11-02 14:25:13

Wow, I love this!

Any idea when you next launch will be?

Would love to hear the sound with a small external microphone and a good windscreen.... would shield from the noise of the electronics. Also, do you have video at the moment the balloon burst? That would be cool.


PS - Who is that freak making all the lame god/terrorist posts? Who are the real Terrorists? What a fool!

George from Germ says:
2007-11-02 15:57:08

Marvelous! Im very happy to hear and see about your wonderful experimental ideas and wish you all the very best luck for the next action! god bless you - make another lots of beautiful pictures of our blue planet and take care of the international space police!

natirum42 says:
2007-11-02 17:08:04

I thought that I already included sound... :)
Balloon burst wasn't captured because I only had one camera which wasn't always pointed up taking a video.

gustavo says:
2007-11-03 01:00:35

Exelente, gracias por compartir, saludos desde Uruguay.

yves says:
2007-11-03 01:12:10

dommage pour votre parachute trop petit je pense, il aurai tait mieux d'utilis un dclenchement d'ouverture du parachute par mini explosion radio.....BRAVO A TOUS

lanjoe9 says:
2007-11-03 01:20:58

Your pictures (and the whole project as well) are awe inspiring!

I've made a link to your page from mine so others may see it :)

Looking forward to see what you'll get on summer 2008!

Keep up the excellent work!!

n!MA says:
2007-11-03 07:58:26


Dante Binda says:
2007-11-03 16:08:13


My name is Dante Bindaand i live in Peru, My hobbie is the air, Im pilot of paragider, hang gliders, trikes, air hot ballons... etc, and I like assembly the rockets. Your fligth is very intersting and I will Like fly a hellium ballon here in Peru. Please you can hep me for that? What I will need?

You have a e_mail? for talk...


Dante Binda

yatie says:
2007-11-03 22:00:15

Very excellent project here.. you must be SMART!!!
Btw, I hv a few questions
Could you explain about how you use microcontroller to read pressure sensor, and how you convert it into altitude?
Do you constantly get the real-time reading from the payload?( temp and pressure ).. if so, could you explain further.. u just said that u use 900MHz modem

Romme Sanchez says:
2007-11-03 22:07:40

Nice Project!

Thx for Sharing!

Ricardo says:
2007-11-04 01:26:18

Im brazilian.

is a excelent project!

Dieter Klemke says:
2007-11-04 07:06:22

Eine so groartige Mischung von Idee, Trumerei und Umsetzung.
Einfach grroartig.
Wir werden einen Link auf unserer Seite setzen.
Beste Gre
Dieter Klemke

Dieter Klemke says:
2007-11-04 07:16:30

It's me again.
As most of the visitors are english speaking, I want to give my compliments again in english.

A wonderful project showing that it is possible to let dreams come true. Impressively and fascinating.
I wish you all the best and hope for other wonderful projects coming out of your "kitchen of ideas"
Best regards
Dieter Klemke

Christoph says:
2007-11-05 13:23:55

I read about your project in a german newspaper. Amazing ! Im looking forward for your next flight and wish you all the best !



Adriano Rocha says:
2007-11-05 14:31:35

Hi, i'm from Brazil

great initiative.

all pictures are amazing and the videos was in a very nice resolution, congratulations!

how do you know all this things? =]

best regards

Al3x (France) says:
2007-11-05 16:01:39

Hello, your project is great! Pictures and videos are beautiful, that's nice!
Congratulations! 8)

VE6SRV says:
2007-11-06 02:02:59

Nice project... you should look at using a more reliable communications mode than cellular. Amateur radio is easy to get into, and we have lots of great toys to use for these projects. There are some amateurs near Perth that are looking to get into high altitude ballooning. Maybe a combined project would give you more options, and capabilties.

You need to read up on the unmanned free balloon regulations... You stated you used 143 cu ft of helium, which is over the maximum of 115 cu ft for exempted flight. If you go over 115 cu ft of lift gas, you need to get Ministerial permission for launch.

"602.42 No person shall release an unoccupied free balloon having a
gas-carrying capacity of more than 115 cubic feet (3.256 m3) except
in accordance with an authorization issued by the Minister pursuant
to section 602.44."


Reflashing the Sirf chipset won't help... they shut down at 60,000 ft. There are many GPS units that we have tested and proven to be reliable over 60,000 ft.

Launching a small rocket from 100,000 ft won't get you to space. We are working on a project to launch a 100 lb two stage N-N rocket from 100,000 ft. We are projecting a max altitude of 85 km, still shy of the Krmn line by 15 km, and further still from orbital insertion.

Experimentation like this is lots of fun, but there are many groups out there that have lots of experience, and can help get you past some of the hurdles that have been faced numerous times. It's cheaper to learn by some one else's error!

Drop us a note if you want to chat.

James Ewen
BEAR and SABLE Near Space Projects.

Steve says:
2007-11-07 01:28:55

COOL! good job guys!

jonas says:
2007-11-09 01:08:41

muito maneiro queria fazer isso tambem .as fotos tao muito boa so faltou estabilizar um pouco o balao!

mas este fato perfeito parabens .

jonas rio de janeiro ,gosto muito te fotos espacial e areas ..sou fan da nasa tambem.agora so teu fan hahah f/w

Mac says:
2007-11-11 11:00:21

There is a simple explanation of why the GPS failed.

To quote Wikipedia:

To help prevent civilian GPS guidance from being used in an enemy's military or improvised weaponry, the US Government controls the export of civilian receivers. A US-based manufacturer cannot generally export a GPS receiver unless the receiver contains limits restricting it from functioning when it is simultaneously:
(1) at an altitude above 18 kilometers (60,000 ft) and
(2) traveling at over 515 m/s (1,000 knots).

To meet that specification, it is easy for them simply to stop giving output at 60,000 feet and not have to worry about the speed.

Using a GPS *NOT* manufactured in the USA may help.


Katusha says:
2007-11-11 21:39:34

WOOOOOOW!!! Incredible and astounding.

Joe says:
2007-11-11 21:55:19

I am on a team at the University of South Florida. We are building a payload much like yours, and we really want to use the Xtend Data modem (directional antenna on the ground), but are concerned with its failure on your mission. Any thoughts?

Joe R.
--science to the people

hgad says:
2007-11-12 17:17:56

Really Exciting!

H. Banken says:
2007-11-12 17:29:32

Tolles Projekt super ausgefhrt.
Glckwunsch aus Deutschland.

sobchak71 says:
2007-11-12 17:50:16

Wow, great idea, really amazing.
I`ve seen your flight on german tv.
What about a next trip to the moon ?

Some of the comments show that there`re idiots worldwide...

C. Schrer says:
2007-11-12 18:24:30

Terrific project, wonderful pictures,
I am impressed by your work, wait for summer 2008.
btw: Your project web page was introduced on German television.

Greetings from germany

Lucas says:
2007-11-13 13:21:57


I hope mine is a success like yours, way to get it done right!

How accurate was the Balloon Trajectory Forcast, I am running a bunch of them to see the different ranges of places that it could land, do you know what descent rate the program uses? How close was it to your landing spot? Thanks!

Anoop says:
2007-11-13 15:58:58

Hi Alexei,
I am software engineer from India,just had a question for you,is it possible to make controllable filghts using ballons?I mean filling gas in an areodynamically shaped ballon ,fix propellers and fly them.
These machines if built can become excellent monitoring devices from top.
Thank you

Hanna says:
2007-11-13 17:01:25

Hey, thanks for your great idea and sharing the wonderfull results with us! Es ist wunderbar, dankeschn ! I got it from a german newspaper, and now I wonder : how would look the "Oktoberfest" from above ?!

Henke says:
2007-11-13 22:03:29


Very impressive!
Good luck with the next flight.

As a photographer, may I suggest that you use a polaroid filter for the camera. it will really bring out the clouds and the sky.

Constantine says:
2007-11-14 02:02:07

Hey Alexei,

Very impressive indeed!! I played tennis w/ Kate today... your mom, dad, and sister started telling me about this...and I was like ya...I gotta check this out. And now that I have...I am simply amazed!! The fact you go to my school and work w/ Arabi is also amazing...when I get back to school...I'll have to come and find you and you can tell me more about this stuff. And if possible, I'll try to get involved on Flight #3 if you need extra hands for some of the work.

Dante Binda says:
2007-11-14 04:19:10


you have a e-mail?



Muffin says:
2007-11-14 06:14:00

Fantastic. Thank you for sharing!

Axel says:
2007-11-14 11:26:36

I can't imagine the feeling of coming home and opening the SD card for the first time... The images are stunning. And I keep thinking this: It feels so alone up there.

Niels T. says:
2007-11-14 14:29:55

Really fantastic. A great projekt and flight!

I know your site, because there're was a report on German TV.

Good luck from Germany :)

TomCallhagan says:
2007-11-14 14:51:52




Nic M says:
2007-11-14 23:02:28

Doesn't HALO traditionally stand for High Altitude, Low Open?

Jonas says:
2007-11-15 05:52:52

Wonderful work, awesome pictures!

Best regards from Sweden!!!

Natalja says:
2007-11-15 06:36:49

I do not understand much in ballooning, but it looks interesting. I also share the surname with you.

Natalja Karpenko

james says:
2007-11-15 21:36:58

Dont pay attention Esecallum, he didnt understand "photographers"He is another stupid like all "no photographers"

Great job Alexei!

Ricardo says:
2007-11-16 20:40:03


Congrats Alexei and team, it was a great work.
thanks for sharing your experience.

I live in Brazil and found infs about Halo at a news site.
good luck with the next round :-)

Peter says:
2007-11-17 12:27:12

geile Sache

Jan Wedekind says:
2007-11-18 21:41:58

Cool project and stunning pictures. You may want to have a look for digital cameras which can be controlled externally. As far as I know there are digital cameras which can be controlled by USB or some other interface. Of course they may be expensive :(
The other possibility would be to use a firewire camera and a fanless Mini-ITX board. But most high-resolution IIDC/DCAM firewire cameras are costly in comparison.

natrium42 says:
2007-11-19 04:43:45

I did have remote capture via USB on Flight 1 (hence the Verdex instead of a simple microcontroller). Unfortunately it broke at an altitude of 8km -- probably because of poor USB connection (should have soldered it). In any case, USB remote capture did not permit to take videos and taking pictures was very slow at USB 1.1 speeds. Also, Canon cameras keep crashing after you take a couple hundred pictures via USB, so I had to add in a relay to cycle power to the camera... The advantage of USB capture was that I had access to the pictures with the Verdex and could scale them down and downlink the thumbs in-flight. Here are the thumbs downlinked in-flight at Flight 1: http://natrium42.com/balloon/downlinked%20thumbs/

Philippe Annet says:
2007-11-23 19:39:01

Fantastic work !!! Thanks for sharing all that material.

How the hell did you get the software to patch the SIRF III ??

Personnally, I'm an amateur rocketeer, I'm currently working on a liquid-fueled engine (LOX-kerosene), but things are really, really slow (and extremely complicated, at my level...). I'm currently also working on an IMU (although I think I'll throw it away, and get an ADIS16350 from Analog...), it'd be interesting to test it in such a balloon.

I'll follow your story, for sure !

Mohamad says:
2007-11-24 16:18:49

that is awesome , this is very nice project indead i wonder if we able to invite you her in kuwait to demonistrate the project in our club,

what if you used a valve to de inflate the ballon at higher altitute to avoid burst and see how hi it goes ?
thanks for sharing your ideas and look forward


Mohamad says:
2007-11-24 16:18:49

that is awesome , this is very nice project indead i wonder if we able to invite you her in kuwait to demonistrate the project in our club,

what if you used a valve to de inflate the ballon at higher altitute to avoid burst and see how hi it goes ?
thanks for sharing your ideas and look forward


u1tra says:
2007-11-27 13:01:34

this is the cheapest of the amazing things i've ever seen.
"everything of genius is simple"
good luck to you.
i'm just interested, what are the gabarites of this creation.

Carl Covey says:
2007-11-30 19:39:13

Dear guys & gals! That was spectacular! Congratulations! We are watching from the USA and are very proud of you! You did a great job! RC Group is watching! Thanks for sharing!

dayhead says:
2007-12-01 20:05:55

I wonder how much more complex/expensive it would be to use a glider instead of a parachute? Could the GPS be used to guide the glider back to the launch site? Seems like a simple foam delta wing glider, like the Space Shuttle, would work.

Congratulations and Keep Up The Good Work!

blaze and friend says:
2007-12-03 17:17:45

Good Work.
great Idea!!!!!!!!!!

read at Frankfurter Sunday Newspaper (04.11.2007)

greets from bochum..germany

Eugene says:
2007-12-12 03:49:28

Hi, i was wondering how do u modify the code to include bearing as well?

pingping says:
2007-12-16 08:07:09

"everything of genius is simple"
Cool project, well done. Looking forward your next flight...

Alan Craig says:
2007-12-16 22:12:47

Fantastic amateur science Alexei, pictures/site/ project all superb. If you don't mind me offering a suggestion, solid state gyros are cheaply available from the model helicopter hobby. These along with small electric motors and props on a torque arm may be able to control some of the rotation at a penalty of about 100g. Good luck next year,

Max says:
2007-12-24 02:04:35

Molodci rebjata ! ka4estvo izumitel'noe

yam says:
2007-12-26 15:23:15

hello did you took wind speed measurements at different altitude?
great work I am impress.

ricardo says:
2007-12-29 19:52:41

ola sou do brasil e vc esta de parabens pelo experimento vc no tem propostas de trabalhar na nasa e ensinar os caras por la como se faz isto bem baratinho hhe



Jess says:
2008-01-12 21:39:00

Hey -

We are at the University of Idaho, and do balloon launches too. We put everything up on our site, uirise.wikidot.com, so take a look.


Igor Carron says:
2008-01-16 13:38:59


This is beautiful. It looks like you are trying several flights. In future flights, you might consider trying to have the images overlapping each other so that you could get something like we got when flying on a 20 hour flight:


by stitching images together. All images can downloaded from here:

Using the maximum focus, we nearly got to the highest satellite resolution:

I have not seen anybody trying to stitch a 360 panorama from one point :-) I am sure it would an awesome view.


Hot Air Balloon says:
2008-01-22 05:12:21

Hot Air Balloon Flights UK[...] It can occasionally get formidable to extract the valuable hot air ballooning albuquerque work from the dreadful.[...]

Kashan Ahmad says:
2008-01-23 05:26:55


Nice project. I was just wondering if you get cell phone reception at that altitude.

Can you shed some light on it ?

Kashan Ahmad

Bill.jr says:
2008-01-23 06:29:22

it's pretty interesting. You wrote that you didn't need any permit, but do you know if we need any in Europe?

Correct my If I am wrong but I've read some article about gps maybe week ago and it said that GPS is not working over 24km. U.S. government wants to prevent it from using it in enemys cruise missiles. So I think that flashing firmware won't help.

Alessandro says:
2008-01-23 09:36:08

incredibly amazing: this is what I call smart!!!

Alain says:
2008-01-23 09:46:34

Great project. Greetings from Luxemburg

Benjamin Franzma says:
2008-01-23 10:04:23

I've looked at balloon photography for a couple of years now and I'm keen to do it myself sometime. I think your setup and your results are really impressive - well done!
I was really surprised to see the camera twisting and turning wildly during the flight - I had imagined a much calmer flight. I wonder if you can reduce this turning in future flights. Perhaps an attachment to the balloon that is rigid (ie a pole?, bamboo?) instead of using rope. On the way down it might stabilise the camera if you shape the payload so that it is smooth and maybe with stabiliser fins.

Keep it up, I'm totally inspired!

J says:
2008-01-23 11:40:13

Very nice project. Sounds like a lot of fun. So , you said that you basically power cycled the camera occasionally? I think you could make another way to safeguard the photos. I would suggest making a blank sd card to bring the connections out to wires and then to a pcb with an sd slot, you could put on that card (it might be kind of bulky)a memory ic and a pic chip additional to the sd slot. With that you could program the pic to buffer the photos to the memory ic and create a protection to isolate voltage/current spikes from the camera. Every so often the pic would write the buffer to the sd card and electrically isolate the card some how when it wasn't being written to. It might also be possible to hook that circuit up to the radio modem (might increase risk of loss of pictures?) and have the radio modem relay pictures to your computer when it wasn't performing normal communication.

Eric says:
2008-01-23 13:13:57

Ignore esecallum. He doesn't represent Alabama, he represents the stereotypes that people apply to Alabama.

Great job! I'm using one of your pictures as a desktop background.

Stephen says:
2008-01-23 15:16:49

From: http://www.eoss.org/faq/faa_liaison.htm

1. 14 CFR Part 101 is the FAA's rules regarding unmanned balloons, among other things. Para 101.1(a)(4) describes the physical parameters below which balloon-borne payloads are assumed to present negligible risk to air traffic. In general, payload packages under 6 lbs and payload strings under 12 lb are treated no differently from a party balloon which has escaped the grasp of its owner; EOSS tags such payload strings as "exempt". Note that EOSS also assumes a definition of "payload" to be that part of the flight string that does the work, regardless of how it gets to altitude; accordingly, we don't include the weight of the balloon envelope, parachute or cutdown towards that limit.

Jack says:
2008-01-23 17:35:02

Needs a HERO tag. The pictures are fantastic, and it's good to see people explore the edge of space.


Dan says:
2008-01-23 17:59:05

I am VERY impressed! What a wonderful project to undertake! (ehh.. overtake? haha)
The Sky is no longer the limit! I presume your next project will be to get something into low Earth orbit? :-)

Greetings from Denmark

Greg, K4HSM says:
2008-01-23 18:38:15

Very nice. I'm involved with a group here in Knoxville, TN who's done several similar to yours and was even featured in Make Magazine. I would recommend visiting this site for ARHAB (Amateur Radio High Altitude Ballooning) ballooning records (altitude, ascent, etc.) at http://showcase.netins.net/web/wallio/ARHABrecords.htm.

I would like to recommend you get your ham radio license, as you can use APRS (Automated Position Reporting System) to track your payload in real-time and maintain a contant contact. Other stations on APRS (there are thousands) can relay position reports over the internet, and you can use various web sites that have Google maps for positioning.

Another site I would recommend is Bill Brown's, WB8ELK. He is the "godfather" of ARHAB and he started it with a launch 20 years ago last August in Findlay, OH. I went to the celebratory "super launch" for that anniversary and one ham used FRS radios with built-in GPS to track his payload down. It was fascinating to be there and hunt down the payloads.

I haven't explored the site thoroughly, but was curious to know how you calculated 31666 meters? The balloon your using looks to be a 300gr balloon which I think is only rated to 80,000 feet (approx 25km).

Again, congrats on a great inaugural flight. I'm passing this site to others in ARHAB to check out.

Greg, K4HSM says:
2008-01-23 18:52:12

Another recommendation would be to point your cellular antenna earthward, rather than above the box. The payload will shield the signal from the ground as it goes up. You might be able to put it on the side, but it may not be as effective cross-polarized. A bit of aluminum foil and a paper plate to make a horn, or "dish" might also help to boost more signal back to the ground.

domelhor.net says:
2008-01-23 20:48:34

Voo de Alta Altitude[...] Os voos em balo de hlio parece estarem a entrar na moda, neste foram tiradas algumas imagens quer fotografias quer vdeos. A altitude alcanada foi de 30 km.[...]

kevin mcguigan says:
2008-01-23 21:38:28

i would like to be part of your team. i dont have much knowledge of software, but i have remote control radios and servos handy. i would like to be a part of your projects.

Politcnica de M says:
2008-01-23 23:08:27

Hi! Just in case you want to know it, you are the local hero of the day in our University geek "brotherhood".

Thats a very very nice job.

Have a high five from a bunch of fellas from Spain!

Steve Jurvetson says:
2008-01-23 23:59:47

Cool. And strangely enough, it reached the same altitude as an amateur rocket launch I saw recently:

dumbredneck says:
2008-01-24 00:38:28

FUUUUUUUUU-KING AWSOME! dude that is just wilder

eeboy says:
2008-01-24 02:41:45

This is great and all... but... what does it do for "civisation"?

JoaCHIP says:
2008-01-24 08:46:58

Amazing! Do it again!

Daddy says:
2008-01-24 11:28:09

Great work!

Alan says:
2008-01-24 16:27:23

Fantastic work, the video is amazing!

AndrewBeen says:
2008-01-24 20:47:55

I salute you.

nuevecolas says:
2008-01-25 03:15:26


I really, really love what you do. Keep doing stuff like this! Congratulations!

Fuzzy says:
2008-01-25 04:02:35

So its -47 up there. Awesome project. Do more!!

Stefan from Germ says:
2008-01-25 05:39:47


Most impressing. Still, being a recreational pilot myself, I would feel a bit uneasy if any payload of any weight would come down unexpectedly while I am cruising around in my glider. What might do a *pling* to a 747 might do a *wham* to my SF 25. I don't know how these things work in the U.S. but why not simply inform the authorities?

Apart from those 2 ct, A*W*E*S*O*M*E! Your project made me smile!

Stefan from Germ says:
2008-01-25 12:44:21

Oops! I didn't read carefully: replace 'U.S.' by 'Canada'! Sorry.

Mark Caviezel says:
2008-01-25 13:51:14

Your radio link issues are not surprising. Use of an omni high gain antenna is not a good choice for this type of flight, something like a low gain omni 1/4 wave whip will give you much better results. Consider reviewing the ARRL's Antenna Handbook for some RF tips that will really help. - Mark Caviezel

Daniel says:
2008-01-25 15:19:10

Excelente trabajo y magnifica la forma de presentar su trabajo.


DJ Fadereu says:
2008-01-25 23:42:41

this is great work....

Pete S. says:
2008-01-26 02:16:02

When was a kid (early 50's) my dad bought me a war surplus weather ballon with transponder...didn't know a darned thing about how it worked but I used to dream about seeing it go where yours went...big dreamer.
You have fullfilled my dreams for me.
Thanks for sharing your awsome project.

2008-01-26 11:10:28

That is awesome work!...
Thanks for sharing.

Ira says:
2008-01-26 16:07:34

What an awesome project!

One thing that may help protect your $$$$payload would be wrapping the foam capsule in clear packing tape instead of hot gluing it leaving a hole somewhere for pressure to come and go.
Should add almost no weight.
Thanks for sharing your project. It is very inspiring!

Kherad says:
2008-01-27 17:57:10

only thing that i can say is WOW!

Whatmough says:
2008-01-27 23:34:00

Wow, this is simply amazing. I love the background picture here of the transition from space to our atmosphere.

I am waiting for the conspiricy theorist to start saying that this is fake and never happened...I mean look! you can't see any stars!

Good work keep it up!

jopo says:
2008-01-28 11:23:53


this is incredible, grande.

Sas says:
2008-01-28 17:21:31


Bill says:
2008-01-29 03:29:08

Amazing! Great work! Congratulations. I talked about your project in the SolderSmoke podcast (episode 75) and posted your link on the GADGETEER NEWS website.


2008-01-29 08:00:55

! ! ! :-)
. ... :-)

Zeropoint says:
2008-01-29 17:44:07

Dear Mr. Alexei Karpenko,

Recently I came accross your site and I am very impressed by your project. The photos and the videos are great and very inspiring. Would you mind if I place some of them on my blog - with a credit and a link to your site of course?

Best regards,
Mr. Zeropoint

John S. says:
2008-01-29 19:09:06

Beautiful and, indeed, noble! Great job! --j

Parker Schulmeri says:
2008-01-30 01:05:18

just wondering what brand of temp/pressure sensors you used, and also, were does the white cord coming off of the camera go? im trying to do this myself, and just wanted to know.

Sanctus says:
2008-01-30 08:00:02

Esecallum: US US uber alles, uber alles in der welt ;) Sounds familliar?

Anyway, I liked the project, it is my dream as well. What I would like to add, really, you need some filter or post processing if you want to use the photos for mapping etc. Good luck and please continue!

Dennis says:
2008-01-31 03:58:40


natrium42 says:
2008-02-01 01:28:09

@Parker Schulmeri
Temperature sensor: Texas Instruments TMP123AIDBVT
Pressure sensor: Honeywell ASDX015A24R

White cord was not used in Flight 2. It's the USB cable used to take pictures remotely in Flight 1. For Flight 2, I just soldered to camera buttons directly (shutter, power and switch between video and picture modes).

Rick Kirby says:
2008-02-05 12:08:16

How about image stabilization. A good battery powered gyroscope would help to stabilze the platform!

Biggus UK says:
2008-02-05 12:14:43


I have calculated how many balloons you would need to launch yourself.
Just imagine how many muslins you could warn us about from 60,000ft !

Great job mate. We are launching summer 2008, with our own system.
SCientific RemOte Telemetry Uplink Mechanism. (SCROTUM1). Will be taking
1080i spec video with second downward fish eye. Will tke the spin out digitally.
As for altitude, we intend to track it with radar.

Gerard says:
2008-02-07 19:17:15


I've seen you are using XTEND RF Modem. I have one question: did you have live communication during all the flight (so you were able to know information at real time: ex. gps)? I'd like to try this module but first I'd like to know if the signal range is realiable or not.


Catherine says:
2008-02-09 00:50:20

I just feel happier knowing people like you exist doing stuff like this. Thank you for sharing!

Bill says:
2008-02-11 14:57:41

You have probably thought of this already but what about using 2 balloons each half inflated to reach more altitude?
Awesome project!!
Good luck with the next launch!

Ockert says:
2008-02-15 20:47:07

Came accross your site while trying to find something on weather balloons to show to my 5yr old daughter. She loved what you did, so did I.

I'd really like to give it a try as well.
I also checked out some of the other links mentioned above.

Great Stuff - the videos, pics and Google map.

Greetings from South Africa

Lin Floyd says:
2008-02-16 15:34:50

I totally agree with esecallum, we should be fighting "Muslin" terrorists rather than expanding our mind. These cotton-defiling wackos must be stopped!
Seriously, great stuff, reminds me that hobbies can actually expand your horizons, in this case literally.

Ni.c says:
2008-02-16 23:45:23

Awesome Project and cool pictures! Great job!

Michael says:
2008-02-22 06:44:51

Thats awesome dude! Very impressive

Rev Cosmic says:
2008-02-22 08:40:21

I would like to say fantastic job guys. I am a amateur rocket enthusiast and am interested in high altitude experiments. One day I hope to launch a small rocket from a balloon platform. Great work and very interesting. Have you considered flying a small lab that would measure air temp and such ? Also I think if this hobby 'takes off' (hehe) it may be a good idea to attach a small strobe to the craft or a transponder (or both) to prevent accidents and over regulation. Just a suggestion. One more thing, maybe a small glider would be possible to fly your payload (back to visual range of the launch site) if you could receive and transmit your GPS data (etc) in 'real time" ?

former american says:
2008-02-24 12:02:57

Even though I just stumbled on this site and I am a little late, I would just like to say how bad assed this project is. Truly inspiring. Canada is a GREAT country eh? You could never do this in the states with Bush's Gestapo-aka 'homeland suckurity' I left the USA to come here and am glad I did. USA sucks. Keep up the good work and look forward to an update.

Ron Stiles says:
2008-02-27 08:59:03

That is really cool! I wish I had (time for) a hobby!

Dovydas Sankausk says:
2008-02-28 01:44:08

Wow! That's amazing!
Good look during next launch!

billyrae says:
2008-03-05 21:27:09

is it possible to fit a preasure release valve to the balloon that slowly starts to release gas before the balloon bursts, perhaps extending the period of flight?sorry if this sounds crazy but i am drainage engineer i suspect this could be achived by either mechanical or electical activation.

etharooni says:
2008-03-14 05:35:15

Incredible. You did a great job on this project. I am really amazed at the footage you have taken, Wow! I wanna make one now!

chichilo says:
2008-03-19 05:32:43


I'm excited just viewing your odyssey, can imagine how it was doing it!


Its incredible awesome!!!

And thanks for editing esecallum comms.... that was great to!

Cheers from Argentina!

Toto says:
2008-03-21 07:15:47

Hi Alexei, GREAT EXCELLENT BRAVO!!! To: Michael Switzer: I have 40 balloons and TWO lil guns to shoot the 40 baloons. Dont forget, we also need a special suits and oxygen to be 30km above. I'll go with you one day.. soon? toto.

Laurens says:
2008-03-23 00:20:35

Really great, interesting and inspriring project. And how cool would it be if you were up there at 30 km altitude!

Laurens says:
2008-03-23 00:26:55

Would a vacuum balloon(in theory) go much higher than a helium balloon?

Laurens says:
2008-03-23 00:47:34

Just look at http://www.sbszoo.com/bear/sable/sable3.htm, another project, in which the weather balloon reached 36 km.

Laurens says:
2008-03-23 00:58:03

http://www.isas.jaxa.jp/e/special/2003/yamagami/index.shtml. Here is the website of the balloon project in which the balloon reached 53 km. They are planning to make a balloon which could go over 60 km in the near future.

andy says:
2008-03-25 02:00:49

so if people want to get into this kind of stuff, where might be a good place to start?

inichtine says:
2008-03-27 19:43:53

ilike scince and discovery so i wish that you send to me every thing new please

Diz says:
2008-03-28 19:05:23

This would not harm an airliner. If it was sucked into the engine, it probably wouldn't harm the engine, and if it did, planes are engineered to be able to run on 50% of their engines. Also, the balloon did not spend much time in the region of space where jetliners are found (20,000-35,000 feet)

Anon says:
2008-03-28 19:44:40

Wow, this is really good! Nice knowing people are doing stuff like this!

To stop the capsual from spinning, add fins at the sides, like the ones that prevent a rocket from spinning...

Anon says:
2008-03-28 19:52:57

almost forgot to say... I've stumbled on this site, and given it a definite thumbs up!

Those pictures are extraordinary! You can look at them a thousand times and never get tired :D

Art says:
2008-04-03 08:18:14

Hi Alexei,
Nicew work :) I was hoping you could provide me with your email addy so we could
share a few notes. I am planning to reproduce your experiment with a friend around
Chrismas time, but also an earlier one with only a few Km altitude with a mechanism
to pop the baloon early, and hopefully highly increase the chances of getting my
hardware back.

I have already a dedicated digital camera, GPS, and computer (Sony PSP main board)
for this. I have yet to find a phone I can communicate with that is lighter than a
Nokia 5110.

I want to do all of my own work, including software, but some advice would be helpful.
Hope to hear from you :)

crazyguy says:
2008-04-06 07:26:29

I think you should use H2 and He2 to reach highest altitude.

Joerg says:
2008-04-06 12:44:06

Wow! What a great achievement.
These are unbelievably beautiful pictures/videos.

Just can't imagine what it's like to jump off from up there.
But sending your own camera there sure must giving you thrills too...

john chia says:
2008-04-06 16:31:20

nice work dude

about cameras, it seems that some newer cameras have much improved sensor noise characteristics. although i haven't seen a good 5mp sensor, i have seen a very good 7 mp sensor as in the canon s70 or g6. it's made by sony and also appears in their cams.


franganghi says:
2008-04-06 23:36:26

You have my admiration.

Giovanni - ROME - IT

Andrei says:
2008-04-07 13:29:50

Hi, I'm interested in doing something like that too.. could you please provide me with a electronic draft and a detailed explanation on how you have built the electronic system?

Thank you

kamel says:
2008-04-09 13:31:24

graph of gravity

Momchil says:
2008-04-11 12:18:22

Very interesting!

Hugo says:
2008-04-19 13:29:08

Totally inspiring. I'm working on putting a group together to do something like this too.

Oh, BTW, Hey, escallum you should go back to school.

oxigen says:
2008-05-01 23:52:37

Great! Congratulation!
, !
, GPS- (5-15 ), ? ?
- ?

Jose Miguel says:
2008-05-06 17:40:22

I hope that in the 2 nd flight around as soft on 1. consigais more height, I will be attentive to the summer of 2008.Hablo Spanish and he used the translator google ... a greeting from Spain.
Os propongo que useis cohetes,estaria bien (aunque difcil de conseguir) que sea lanzado uno desde el globo a maxima altura...lucky

MykolaFromKiev says:
2008-05-08 12:30:22

Great job! Exellent! In 197* year I have found in the field near Vinnitsa (Ukraine, ex-USSR)the rests of a balloon which has arrived from Germany (German words). In any German city there was a holiday. Then I had to talk to the person from KGB which asked, whether I still have found something? I am happy, that those times have passed!

Siddharth says:
2008-05-08 17:38:53

I am Siddharth, from India and workin on a similar project as u. We are really unsure about how the parachute will deploy. The automatic parachute opening mechanism is very expensive and our launch is scheduled soon. Please help us.
Thanking You

MykolaFromKiev says:
2008-05-09 07:10:44

Siddharth, think I can help you. Write me write[AT]ukr[DOT]net

ibo2147 says:
2008-05-10 13:31:34

if you are reading this you must be stupid...

mania says:
2008-05-11 22:29:48

Man that's awwwwwwwwwwesome!~ Great stuff!

amy says:
2008-05-14 00:34:02

hi there,

i need your advice on my project..i need to design a simple handset that can make and receive calls and send sms using GPS capability. since i am new in this field and you also using the same module like mine which is GM862-GPS so i really need your help for my project..what is the layout for my project which i mean what is the full circuit..let say i used GM862-GPS which has a power supply..what type of power supply that is suitable..then what type of microcontroller and what is the programme can i use??my supervisor asked me to use the keypad since he want me to desgn a simple handset...can you give me an advice for all my questions or any reference or sources??thank you very much..

Steve Battaglia says:
2008-05-18 02:54:28

Currently building a near space balloon project myself...The payload is a bit more sturdy, being made of aluminum and Lexan. I was looking at a GPS/Cellular tracking system but was worried that no signal would be available at 100,000 feet.....Whick model did you have, or was it self built. And is there anything that you could have done, or will do in the future to increase the performance of your system....Looking into the G-Wiz line of High Altitude Rocket Computers...they seem to have everything but the kitchen sink; GPS telemetry, Altitude, Speed, Pressure, and up to 4 pyro channels to program for cutaway, and low altitude chute deployment after 93,000ft. of freefall.....let's talk.

Alex says:
2008-05-22 21:16:42

you are real youngs skywalker!
compliments and
greetings from Venice Italia

Robert Harrison says:
2008-05-23 16:19:17

I'm going to give this a go in the UK I have a spare grand kicking about for a bit of fun...

Now the problem you had with the parachute may be solved by placing the balloon within the canopy of the parachute. If you can imagine the balloon head in place by the parachute when the balloon explodes it should just fall away from the parachute. Just an idea would like to try some testing first before setting it out live.

MykolaFromKiev says:
2008-05-28 02:23:56

Good idea, Robert. Will be good, if the balloon should have the "thin line" for the control of exploding.

jim says:
2008-05-28 12:08:49

iam from greece.great job,is better from the war!amateurs create everything!keep walking!!

TRISH says:
2008-06-04 13:44:00


Lee Kelleher says:
2008-06-06 10:34:35

Amazing! Very inspiring! Good luck with future projects.

Martyn Jones says:
2008-06-12 13:28:06

Awesome Alexei, good effort sir.

Having received an acre of land on the moon for my birthday, plus my ongoing fascination with said subject and my Aerospace engineering degree, your work could form an solid basis for getting small objects into orbit and beyond in a cheaper manner, even if that small object were not a great deal larger than a bullet for starters. I believe most of the technology is readily available to land a small projectile on the moon.

Drop me a line if we share a common dream !!

Eduard says:
2008-06-15 05:08:13

I would recommend in order to help stabilize the camera while going up to put a "tail" to the box. Just like the tail of an aeroplane, or an arrow, or a dard, or a rocket.
Looking forward to your next launch.

Weblog says:
2008-06-15 06:47:59

High ALtitude Object[...] My little sister didn’t believe that the earth was round, so I decided to launch a helium balloon to an altitude of 30km and shoot pictures and videos. I have posted a write-up with selected pictures and videos here. A launch and retrieval video [...]

walter says:
2008-06-15 15:04:50

brilliant, wonderful, fantastic, beautiful...... you are an inspiration to many. good luck in the future.

Worried says:
2008-06-19 02:04:59

I have heard that in the United States that Homeland Security has been made aware of this new hobby and might take steps to stop all flights. This is after one person posted plans to launch a 'long distance' mission that would ( hopefully ) fly over Area 51 in Nevada.

I was going to see if this hobby would appeal to me, but I have no desire to be locked up in Gitmo in limbo branded a terrorist.

USA is too damn paranoid these days. Very dangerous.

Robert Harrison says:
2008-06-21 08:08:47


I'm having some trouble trying to control a camera from the gumstix and I see you mention controlling the camera using CPIO pins. I'm not very good at electronics and I wondered if you could let me know if its is possible to control most canon compact cameras using these pins. If you could write a quick paragraph on this and point me in the correct direction I would really appreciate it.

Is there going to be another launch?


Steve Battaglia says:
2008-06-22 14:35:44

As far as camera control is concerned....You could try and program a servo and arm to "push" the shutter release button every (x) seconds or so....I'm using a arduino controller and some HiTec mini servos for my shutter control....

Tom says:
2008-06-22 23:15:41

You have both xTend and Cellular data - what was each used for? Did the data link work for you?

natrium42 says:
2008-06-23 22:51:26


Here are a few pictures of how to hook up to buttons of a camera:
What you need to do is to probe the camera buttons to find out how they work. Usually you can "press" a button by switching the data pin of the button between GND (ground) and VCC (power).


While using a servo would work, it introduces another failure point. You never know how a servo is going to behave at low temperatures. Additionally, soldering wires is much simpler, IMO. But no big deal as long as it works :)


Unfortunately I used an omni antenna on the ground, so range was only about 6km up, 12km horizontal. I think with a directional yagi antenna, full range can be achieved. I am going to test this with the next launch. Still, a cellular module or a cellphone is a nice backup to get the final location. (But cellphones cut out at about 1km, so they are not good enough to follow the trajectory live.)


Kyle F. says:
2008-06-28 18:04:01

Hey i think this was a very nice experiment, im from america... how about make a platform in the shape of a rectangle, use more than one camera position in the box, and have four balloons one one each corner of the box, for stablization have an object hang below the box so that the weight will keep downward pressures on it, may work, im not an expert at anything but you will have more lift, quick acceleration, more run time, and maybe a stable picture.

Daniel Barnes says:
2008-06-30 20:38:23


I really liked your videos. My family and I just launched a balloon about 2 weeks ago,(check website). I especially liked the way you tilted the camera for the various shots. Maybe next year we can do the same. Congratulations on the recovery!

natrium42 says:
2008-07-05 05:21:46


Wow, your picture of the moon is amazing! Do you have a higher res one? I would really like to make one like that.
Another good shot to do would be sunrise...


D.K. says:
2008-07-07 04:45:38

What kind of balloons did you use and where can I find them?

moritz says:
2008-07-08 20:07:41

I'm studying Environmental Scienes and seen a lot of beautiful things and experiments, but thats probably the coolest!

Greetings from Germany

garth says:
2008-07-14 15:12:52


amazing work

would you build one to order and deliver it?

Chemthunter says:
2008-07-16 15:23:42

Hi Alexei, I m Francesco, the webmaster of www.sciechimiche.org, first italian website dedicated to the chemtrails.
I wanted to be in contact to you from many time. So here I m.
I have the idea to collect money in my website to buy all the instruments to lunch the baloon here in Italy during a spraying day to take proofs with photos and to collect with a filter the chemtrail or the chemcloud substances.
But first i need your help. you should help me to find all the material and also to write me the cost of all the operation, with all the details.
if u can maybe u can send me a video about how to build all that things and how to use that softwares.
do u live in canada?
do u think is possible to lunch also some machines to collect the substances in the chemtrail?
for now i wait your answer, than i hope to talk to u in skype or msn.

regards and i hope u will help us.


Alberto says:
2008-07-19 22:47:36

Chemthunter... first of all... chemitrails does not exist.
However if you want to show that they exist i think the only chance is to go up with a plane and take some sample of the air.
On the ground you can analyze it.
After you can close your website.

This is a hobby, the baloon is not controllable, you cannot drive the baloon into a supposed chemitrail.


Dafmulder says:
2008-07-22 09:01:01

Wow... This is one of the most awsome diy projects ever....
I'm stunned!!

Mario says:
2008-07-25 16:00:20


joo pedro motta says:
2008-08-01 07:29:16

Grande trabalho. Meus parabens a todos e continuem com este projeto. De pessoas inteligentes como voces que a humanidade precisa.

R2K says:
2008-08-03 12:26:10

Wow great page, I would love to do this some day. I linked to you in my rocketry blog.

Ernest says:
2008-08-03 20:43:14

Amazing project! Do you know, when exactly will be next flight?

Commander Tobias says:
2008-08-21 18:59:51

"I think you should use H2 and He2 to reach highest altitude. "

He2? Tell me more! This could be revalutionary! How do you get the protons to stick together with no Neutrons?

Very inspiring site. I've decided that I want to launch a mission consisting of a 1 Cubic metre envelope, a parachute, and a camera that can take pictures as it goes up (need to work that one out). Once it reaches its highest altitude, the ballon will poop, the parachute will deploy, and I'll pick up thew payload with it's images.

Have you heard of JP Aerospace?

Commander Tobias says:
2008-08-21 19:01:55

It should have said Commander Tobias Holbrook.

Elliot says:
2008-08-29 15:04:48


Doc says:
2008-09-09 22:29:42


Andy says:
2008-10-14 15:40:22


Great Project!

Did you have some problems with condensation? Or how did you solve this problem?


dave says:
2008-11-01 00:22:38

just saw your video on google tech talk.
was really good.
in the new year i'm planning to do a somewhat similar project with an added twist of bringing a L2 rocket and platfrorm to 30Km and see if I can punch it through 100Km theory border. should be able to do it. anyway, i'll drop you an email when i start, should be jan 09.

Yatrik says:
2008-11-17 02:54:57

You are freaking amazing....definitely an inspiration, man.

mmt says:
2008-12-06 23:40:35

does anyone know people who do this kind of stuff in southern california? I'd love to be involved.

Ivano says:
2008-12-22 13:48:33

Congratulations, nice work... by the way you would consider utilize Path antenna instead Yagi. Take a look it.

Chris says:
2008-12-27 03:10:16

Hello. I am a student at Oregon State University. We recently started a satellite/high altitude balloon program here at OSU. I was wondering where you were located and if you would mind if we asked you questions as we work through the project.

Thank You,

Chris HolmesParker

Jay Walker says:
2009-01-07 10:06:34

Outstanding! Up into the blackness of space, that was just helium you used right? If you used hydrogen would it go higher?

Ian says:
2009-01-11 21:47:55

You must have no fear.

When I'm in an aeroplane at high altitude I always get the feeling that where we are is a special place. It has a presence.

Keep this up.


Nikos says:
2009-01-13 21:05:58

Great job my friend in electronics , photos , videos , i was like flying in the sky. I am Nikos from beautiful Greece. Congradulations for everything.

Stay in touch.

Darek says:
2009-01-14 03:20:30

I'm part of the University of Southern Indiana and we are planing to launch a balloon for a 20 site communication experiment. I saw your design for the camera and it has peaked my interests! I know the EE's at the University can most likely handle programming the chips but i was wondering if you could go into some detail about the set up since you changed it since it failed past 6km. Also would you still change your model for another launch? Please let me know.
P.S. Great pics and vids!!!!

Fabrizio says:
2009-01-21 20:30:44

That's just beautiful!

And the engineering effort behind it is also very interesting: electronics, fotos...everything!
Greetings from Italy.

Andrey_Imperator says:
2009-01-24 04:28:23

How many kilometers from you flew this ballon? Did you collect (found) that sho stopped behind after falling? :)
And as do you think is it possible all the same to get to the "low" orbit?=)

ZR4LP says:
2009-01-30 13:12:34

We here in South Africa also launch a few Balloons regurarly but it carrie ham radio repeaters.

Why is the package/balloon revolving on its own axis? Could be cause cos the balloon is the cause. as one side of balloon is i few microns thicker that side doesnt expand
and shape is not perfectly round . cant u use a ball bearing system between balloon and cargo? if balloon rotetes maybe cargo will not?
Fins will work if their is air around them , at those heights their is no air for the fins to work against. Design ur cargo container more aerodynamically .
Use APRS on 144.800Mhz for realtime Lat/Long / altitude /temp / pressure / or anything else u want to connect to it. APRSworks .
Johan ZR4LP

kostas says:
2009-02-02 23:06:22

Maby you can see some communications ideas at my site for your next project :)

Charles says:
2009-02-03 09:18:37

Two thumbs up for this project of yours, i am willing to try this myself, how much did it cost.

SLE says:
2009-02-18 21:38:27

We are thinking of building on, what did you use for a pressure sensor?

Daniel Cervi says:
2009-02-26 13:37:44

-------HELLO, ive been reading your website for a long time. I am University student in the uk and internd to undertake something similar to this as part of a film project that will be documented to the launch, during and after. this will be presented for my degree show (if all goes to plan). IO found your website after i set myself the task to get as close to space and as far away from the planet as i possibly could.

My project will be for less scientific reasons and i hope that you could help me with a little information, if thats ok?

All i want my balloon to do, is go up,,record video and come down whilst being able to track it.

in your opinion, what is the very simplest and cheapest way of tracking a balloon?

i will record from my stills camera which takes good video and records for over an hour with a 16gb sd card.


I would welcome ony ideas, and critical feedback, i would appreciate any help, i am currently building a website to document this project with, any help you give will be credited in my final work. and perhaps i could advertise your projects?

i would be very grateful for anyhelp!

Best regards

Dan Cervi

Ingo says:
2009-03-13 00:16:12

Absolutely amazing! This is so talented and it has been a true pleasure reading about your project and watching all this beautiful media.

All the best to you guys,
Ingo / Stockholm, Sweden

Marcio S says:
2009-03-15 21:21:43


Eric Goodchild says:
2009-03-17 15:44:28

This is so cool. I'm going to try and get my local ham club to do something like this.

Kyr says:
2009-03-18 02:50:10


You could use a transparent ball filled with liquid and inside it you could try and suspend the payload.
You would need to redesign the whole payload system of course.
But you could stabilize it gyroscopically (sp?) much easier in this concept.

2009-03-18 15:13:29

Great work! Respect!

Griff says:
2009-03-18 16:02:16

That is just brilliant! What a great project!

Kate Day says:
2009-03-18 16:43:02

This is amazing and beautifully presented.

I found out about your project after I blogged about a similar project done by Spanish students and a reader linked to your site. Both projects are just astonishing but it is wonderfully to be able to read all about how you did it and see your videos and pictures.

Thank you very much for taking the time to put this all together.

adamson says:
2009-03-21 19:05:14

I am speechless. These are amazing! I love the fact that you have videos with the pictures!

Jeff says:
2009-03-22 12:00:01

So good

palap says:
2009-03-22 13:01:05

Altitude: 30,489 m...are you sure Why the Earth is still flat not curve like a ball ?

HT says:
2009-03-23 02:53:17

TBT says:
2009-03-23 04:31:30

Excellent work. This raises my interest to send my own balloons. Thanks.

cmsimple says:
2009-03-23 22:08:57

Fine, but we are waiting Flight 3 :)

Dontsov Evgeny says:
2009-03-24 23:30:51


, :)) !!!

Andy says:
2009-03-25 12:07:28

So now I'm gonna do the same but in switzerland :)

Shawn says:
2009-03-28 02:10:25

Well done, gentlemen, and good analysis of your scientific data. Young people like you will eventually be the movement to drive aerospace into the private sector once and for all.

Great Job!

Ricardo de Padua says:
2009-03-28 18:16:58

Ola td bem? sou brazileiro e gostei muito dessa experiencia de voces

Arche says:
2009-03-31 12:07:20

Wonderful! Great job and great results!!!

kamal says:
2009-04-17 11:48:25


Raul Jara says:
2009-04-30 16:37:30

Wonderful! Great job and great results!!! from Cordoba city, Argentina

John Napier says:
2009-05-10 21:51:22

Such a cool endeavor. I am interested in this and hope to have a launch in a few years. for now I will live vcariously through you. I just started teaching high school physical science and would like to incorporate your photos and information into a lesson plan on the atmosphere. Your photos are provide great examples and your data shows exactly what I want to demonstrate - altitude vs temp / pressure as well as the change in temp characteristics of each altitude. I am going to show the students your set up to add a little technology to the lesson. I look for things that engage them and I think your efforts show this well.
Right now I have some high powered rockets that hit a few miles high. The balloon systems seems so much more interesting. My dad had a few hot air balloons over the years and I spent many of my youth weekends traveling to balloon races. Quite different, but still in the same spirit.

If you don't want me to use the photos and your data then please reply. I will respect it if I hear from you. Thank you.

Alexandre Lima says:
2009-05-17 02:28:09

Encontrei o site de vocs quando pesquisava, aqui no Brasil, sobre estratosfera.
Incrvel o projeto de vocs!
me diverti muito vendo as fotos!

Grande abrao do Brasil!!


Post Saver - Web says:
2009-05-23 07:47:18

Gm862 Bookmarks[...] Bookmarked your page with keywords gm862![...]

PH says:
2009-06-03 23:49:16

What an inspiration your project is!!! The panoramas are wonderful. And the science is solid. A real "can do" approach. Love it!

mostafa eltejaei says:
2009-06-10 16:01:12

I cant say any thing.
you are wonderful.I take oath...

Iain McCluskey says:
2009-06-14 20:47:47

Hi, ive been researching a lot into rockets and getting into space, came across your website whilst looking up using helium to get close to space, fantastic website, great work, i found it very inspiring.

Colin Langham says:
2009-07-03 04:24:23

Absolutely inspiring work. Thank heavens a few people switch off the 'idiot-box', probe the real world, and share it with others.

If more projects like this were broadcast, and less political garbage maybe all your comments would would be more sane, and a little more enlightened.

Thank you so much for sharing. More please!

P.s. I fly a light aircraft and would apologise to you if I accidentally chopped up your experiment ;-)

Willem Ewoud Mod says:
2009-07-10 21:54:12

Have you tried to launch a samll rocket at this high altitude? To get even further out into space.

rod says:
2009-07-10 22:24:19

This is impressive stuff, I think this could be a new hobby

Chris Stevens says:
2009-07-22 19:27:12

I would suggest two low tech improvement.

1) Use a superlightweight rod instead of a string or cord between the capsule/parachute and the balloon this keeps it away from the parachute after bursting.
2) Do you have enough lift to ad a second balloon exactly half inflated? Perhaps you could get continued lift from it after the first balloon is burst?

random says:
2009-07-27 20:08:42

hey, cool stuff.

i know this was a long time ago, but i was wondering if you thought about using a rounded shape for your capsule, this could help with wind drag and stop a little of the spinning?

tyler connolly says:
2009-07-29 15:38:39

wow this was amazing! i am actually trying to do a similar project and perhaps i could get some help with the circuitry? or give me a source? thanks!

Keithb says:
2009-07-30 18:36:19

A very interesting projects with amazing results! There is some interest in doing a similar project at a High School here in Cambridge, Ontario, using amateur frequencies (both I and the teacher involved hold licenses). If you are still at UoW or at least in the K-W area, would you be interested in cooperating?

2009-08-02 12:10:10

Great project !!! LOVE IT !

John Gordon says:
2009-08-25 00:05:15

Hi Alexei, just wanted to say thanks for the inspiration and motivation to keep going. I've reviewed your website a thousand times and shown it to a hundred people. We managed to launch our own balloon cam from Vulcan Alberta this past weekend!

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=298125&id=774155014&l=a2a7b42933 (journal)
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=298147&id=774155014&l=f4ac9c5914 (space photos)

normale says:
2009-08-25 20:05:13

you guys are great.the engagement and devotion shown in this project is wonderful.

Bil Munsil says:
2009-08-26 14:26:26

Ham radio operators have been sending up balloons equipt will all these things - including LIVE video for many years.

Google ANSR for Arizona activity and EOSS for Colorado activity.

Ham operators in many other US states that have done likewise.

Bil Munsil
Mesa AZ
Hams should be seen as well as heard!

fahad says:
2009-09-07 01:38:43

amazing work guys
so how do u plan to spend ur next 500$ ;)

Oliver & Jus says:
2009-09-13 03:59:49

Amazing! You also served as a inspiration for my friend and I. I definitely scoured your website for many weeks before attempting it ourself. We decided to simplify the electronics part and instead just use a prepaid cell phone with GPS/ internet capability.We managed to cut down the cost of our launch to 150 dollars! The prepaid cell phone was only 50 dollars.

Please check out space.1337arts.com for more information.


when is the next launch!?

Vilijem K says:
2009-09-14 09:36:18

If You haven't yet figured out (probably You did, hehe) how to prevent the spining, have You tought of attaching a tail.



Good pictures ;)


John Hart says:
2009-09-15 05:32:14

Would be cool for you guys to send up a small bottle of water with the camera system and have it come down frozen.

Kasper Verfailli says:
2009-09-15 14:28:57

Students Heilige Kindsheid Ardooie
Hoflandstraat 2
8850 Ardooie

Dear Sir / Madam

We are three senior students at the 'Heilige Kindsheid' school who are currently studying math science.
Our latest assignment consists of a year long study of a subject of our choice.

We have chosen to study the athmosphere. At the end of our project we'll send a high altitude balloon to the
athmosphere. With this balloon we'll be able to register the temperature, pressure, etc.
The balloon will reach heights up to 100.000 ft.
This project however, is not a unique project and has been done before. Therefore we will follow the detailed
instructions given
by these other hobbyists on various websites. But we expect we'll encounter a lot more obstacles and we'll
certainly be in need of other physicists or engineers.
We will be very gratefull with any kind of help.

We look forward to hearing from you
Yours Faithfully

Matthew Lestina says:
2009-09-15 23:42:53

Could some one tell me is it possible to see stars during the day at your cited altitudes of 3km? If so, why are no stars visible in the photos and the videos? At what altitude can one begin to see stars during the day?

Frodik says:
2009-09-28 11:03:36

Wow, great job, really like your project and photos. I hope to do something like this in Spring 2010. Right now I am doing some research over accomplished projects like yours.

Dov Friedman says:
2009-09-29 15:00:58

Hey Alexei,

Amazing! Please contact me. I am the director of marketing for a company that would like to sponsor your next launch(If you're doing one and if not please contact us anyways). We also have some technology that could be used for the launch. I look forward to hearing from you. I have attached my email.


Bill says:
2009-10-02 19:41:40

Actually, you are permitted to make this launch as long as the payload is less than 4 pounds. See FAR 101 unmanned free ballons. You must contact nearest FAA ATC. Details here http://www.eoss.org/pubs/far_annotated.htm

Michael Semmens says:
2009-10-05 23:37:26

Great project. Are you aware of the High Altitude and Near Space Conference being held in Oct. 19-21, 2009 in Englewood, Colorado? This is right up your alley! Please forward this info to your circle of colleagues! sign up now - http://www.rmtech.org

------- says:
2009-10-07 21:12:03


-------- says:
2009-10-07 21:13:22

Did you get money for doing that?

Richard F. Haine says:
2009-10-17 18:28:45

You are to be congratulated on a successful series of launches and data returns. Could you comment on the possibility of interference with commercial air traffic during the balloon's ascent?

software develop says:
2009-10-29 13:42:30

That was an inspiring post,

These are some great pics!

Thanks for bringing this up

Jorge Keoki Alva says:
2009-11-03 23:14:00

I absolutley believe in this venture. Well done Sir Ellsworth Fry.

Allen says:
2009-11-07 06:41:47

I'm producing a show where a character is experimenting with launching a balloon into space. I would love to get your input.


Sam says:
2009-11-08 18:04:02

Hey Mr. Karpenko,
My name is Sam Barry and I'm a high school student in Charlottesville, Virginia. Last May, myself and a small group of students launched a weather balloon into near space. We actually lost the payload due to GPS failure until October of this year. I did copious amounts of research on how to construct the balloon and components and found your website about your launch the most helpful. So thank you for all the help. I saw one of the things you wanted to do was shoot HD video along the way which was something we coincidentally did. Although we rushed launch and did so on a rainy day, the video is still incredible. After watching it I thought there might be some way to enhance the picture and thought you'd have a good idea of how to do it. What led me to believe this were the panoramic pictures you captured that are simply breathtaking and, I imagine, hard to construct. If you'd like to watch our video and see some stills they're both on Youtube. If you search "McMurdo Has Landed" it is the first video, and the stills are a related link. Thanks so much for your time and setting the bar for near space weather balloon exploration so high.
Sam Barry
Super Space Adventure Team Member

Gopal Adhikari says:
2009-11-27 20:50:10

The project you guys did is really interesting. Keep it up.

jason1234567864 says:
2009-11-28 12:33:09

good stuff!! keep it up!!

AustinQPT says:
2009-12-09 05:02:29

Absolutely amazing, I would love to attempt this someday. Sadly I do not have enough technical experience thus far.

Carmen says:
2010-01-14 17:36:13

Hi! We are the research groups of Geomatics of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. We are very interested by your set up device (both hardware and software) of the balloon project. We would like to buy a set of that device from you to help us to process our little project since we have no knowledge in computer engineering at all. Please contact us with an estimate selling price of your device.

P.S. : We only want a help of the computer engineering part, we would only use your device for research purpose.

bambarbya says:
2010-01-21 18:12:03

! !

ian says:
2010-01-29 21:32:21

great job!!! very nice pictures and in-depth! I put a link up for this on http://diyship.com

navigator says:
2010-02-11 16:17:58

This is absolutely insane ! "Earth is indeed round and that space is black" and I thought that the earth is dirty and hard to chew :)Joke. But i was amazed by your experiment, I could feel some Russian touch and desire to explore. Good Job, Keep it up and GOOD LUCK!

Aaron says:
2010-02-12 04:24:54


I noticed a question you had; about how to stop the spinning? I've been looking at what JP Aerospace does, and since they do this as an advertising business they definitely benefit from steady shots. Look at their launch vehicles...the small ones with cameras on them use "fins" that are like rocket or arrow fins...all around the payload. I think this might be how to fix it cheaply and simple...just make a few fins and attach them on opposite sides to balance...worth a shot. I'm gearing up to do this as well; I want to launch before sunrise, and see if I can get a few stars and the sunrise into the picture...that would be AWESOME! If it is done shortly before sunrise (maybe an hour?) there should be minimal risk...

dom says:
2010-02-23 08:06:14

Where dod you source you ballon from?

1Z0-053 says:
2010-03-19 08:04:14

What caused the balloon to break? Expansion due to altitude? The "Cutdown" relay?

article director says:
2010-03-23 03:11:55

I think this might be how to fix it cheaply and simple...just make a few fins and attach them on opposite sides to balance...worth a shot.

Aaron says:
2010-03-23 17:45:46

I'm gearing up for my first launch. I wanted to try multiple cameras, but I'll save that for later and start with only one on the first launch. Check out my website at www.space-junkie.blogspot.com


meilstrup on lin says:
2010-03-25 17:58:47

Thanks for sharing the information

jimmi meilstrup says:
2010-03-25 18:00:03

I wanted to try multiple cameras, but I'll save that for later and start with only one on the first launch. Thank you

Glenn Flint says:
2010-03-25 22:56:59

Dear Alexei,

I've just seen a news item with a piece on Robert Harrison producing pictures from space using a device similar to yours. You simply must write a 'how to' guide so that the likes of me can do this with my children... it's simply amazing.\

Kind regards,


p.s. i'm sure people would even pay.. :)

Dr. Victor Pena says:
2010-03-26 00:34:18

Dear Alexei,
Congratulations on an excellent achievement. One simple solution to the spinning problem you may want to consider is this: Instead of attaching the capsule to the balloon by a straight length of rope, consider attaching it to a LARGE LOOP of rope. Then place the inflated balloon within the loop (so the loop is draped over the balloon). The loop is then kept in place by a few (3 or 5) small tabs individually attached to the balloon allowing the loop to run freely under each tab while keeping it from slipping off the balloon. Thus, the LARGE LOOP is long enough to aid in lowering the center of gravity of the craft, is large enough to accommodate the expansion of the balloon, and provides 2 points of fixation (instead of 1 when hanging off one rope)which will limit any spinning to that of the balloon itself, which shouldn't be a problem at all since one would wish get a gradual panoramic view anyway.

I hope you haven't stopped making balloons and that this is of some help.

Best of luck in all your future endeavors!



Dr. Victor Pena says:
2010-03-26 00:49:44

Oh! I forgot to mention, though I think it's obvious, that a similar technique can be used for the landing: attach TWO parachute lines from the chute to either side of the capsule to prevent spinning on its way down and provide steadier shots of the landing!

Cheers from London!


George says:
2010-03-26 02:06:09

Well done Alexei,
Same as Glenn above, I just watched the BBC news item about amateur weather balloonists. You can send the most powerful positive messages to the little people down below through your missions. Inspirational.

article by meils says:
2010-03-26 06:37:05

I just watched the BBC news item about amateur weather balloonists. You can send the most powerful positive messages to the little people down below through your missions. good to know this

jimmi meilstrup says:
2010-03-26 06:39:16

You can send the most powerful positive messages to the little people down below through your missions. thanku fir shrug

pauline aannemer says:
2010-03-26 10:20:11


that picture is marvellous!

Question: do you confer with local flight centres? And do you ask permission of them?

Hurricane carol says:
2010-03-26 17:35:23

This is a really good read for me, Must admit that you are one of the best blogger I ever saw.Thanks for posting this informative article.

nick says:
2010-03-26 22:39:48

Greetings from the antipodes,

Great site. I read about near space exploration last year but am now, after reading through your site, planning on having a go with a couple of friends this year.

Hope to live up to your high standard.

Cheers for the info.


payday loans onl says:
2010-03-26 23:48:03

This is some very valueable information, thank you very much.

macintosh hard d says:
2010-03-27 05:00:37

Thanks alot for putting this up.

HID Kit says:
2010-03-27 07:25:54

yes , I've just seen a news item with a piece on Robert Harrison producing pictures from space using a device similar to yours. You simply must write a 'how to' guide so that the likes of me can do this with my children... it's simply amazing.

cocobeans56 says:
2010-03-27 22:06:24

Shopping for parts now!! Gotta do this! Thanks guys U ROCK ;~}!

electronic cigar says:
2010-03-29 10:08:16

You simply must write a 'how to' guide so that the likes of me can do this with my children... it's simply amazing. Thank you for sharing it

Acompanhantes says:
2010-03-29 17:52:11

I think this might be how to fix it cheaply and simple, just make a few fins and attach them on opposite sides to balance!
Great post!

Otimizao de si says:
2010-03-29 17:58:47

It takes some kind of license to perform this experiment, or just have the above equipment? I would like to repeat the experiment here in my city, I have this permission?

Desentupidora says:
2010-03-29 18:04:50

Excellent experiment! And the pictures are beautiful? Is there any forecast for the flight nemro 3, already?

Relogio de Ponto says:
2010-03-29 18:24:24

Is there a way to attach a camera to create videos, instead of the images? Thank you.

Cartoes de Visit says:
2010-03-29 18:44:14

I would love to be able to participate in an experiment like this. It is very encouraging. Should be too difficult a feat like this. Congratulations!

liam2010 says:
2010-03-30 22:30:16

i love it, think its amazing how u could even think of doing this and how you even new how to use the correct stuff and callum what you banging on about ? these aint excactly spending millions and millions are they and they aint in the army so why do they have to worry ? if ur so bothered why not join the army?. GREAT WORK GUYS !!

2010-03-31 10:42:01


2010-03-31 10:50:11

, ! , , ! , . , . . .

2010-04-02 09:07:56

- !

redbull says:
2010-04-02 09:30:41


2010-04-05 16:30:08

, !
, !!! :)))

Scott Johnson says:
2010-04-21 01:25:38

Absolutely spectacular! I'm an aerospace engineer working on stratospheric airships and this just blows me away. What an incredible job of engineering. Awesome!

Freddy Willems says:
2010-06-26 08:05:08

I want to start this project ASAP, But since I live in Hawaii there is no way to retrieve the payload and camera. So my question is how to remotly capture the images or video ? I do not need GPS or balloon cut off deviced just a plain camera like yours and remote images capture. Actually very simple but is it ? Thanlks or any advice.
Love your project !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mr.Jones says:
2010-08-26 22:40:32

If the baloon was at the edge of space.Was it gravity that pulled it back to earth?If you had a small radio controlled rocket,or compressed air device,would it be possible to obtain an orbit?Is there a stronger material to keep the baloon from exploding?If the baloon did not explode what would have happened?Please respond i'm very interested.

Jesus says:
2010-10-09 01:19:32

Me parece muy buen experimento, pero mis preguntas son, como hicieron para que una Canon A510 siga funcionando a una altura de mas de 27.000 metros y a temperaturas de casi -50 C ???? Esa parte no me cuadra.

AD says:
2010-10-09 20:19:16

wonderful project
i would like to congratulate the team for this achievement
and i would like to form a team in los angeles area in order to send similar balloon to space, whoever interested please email me at: eagel2003@yahoo.com
with your contact phone numbers
hope to start soon
thanks all

oscar says:
2010-11-27 13:28:32

I am going to use GooPs to have a real time tracking of the position of a high altitude balloon. However, I am not sure how to use the GpsGate with the GooPs. Do I need to download both the GpsGate Server and Gps Cilent? And is it necessary for me to install IIS and MySQL server?

I will have a mobile set up in the balloon and send the GPS signal back. How can I receive the GPS signal using the GpsGate Server? And how can I get back the data and real time display it in GooPs? As my professor asked me to check if it works for showing the position via GpsGate Server, I need to have testing on it and buy the GooPs software for the research project.

This is a part of an academic research and it's a liitle bit urgent. Hope you can help to solve the problems. Thanks :)

Wilson Siqueira says:
2010-12-13 12:43:06

Hi Folks,

Outstanding! Fantastic job you have done! Congratulations!

Greetings from Brazil,

Wilson Siqueira
Jacare city, So Paulo state, Brazil

dave says:
2010-12-22 06:49:09

I was woundering, the picture that looks like a ball, well, i know it was pieced with other photos, but i'm asuming it does look like that from that altitude, could you make a picture for me that would show what the "ball" looks like at 24,000 meters? or could you at least tell me what it would look like?
I'm planning on paying to fly into the stratosphere on a mig jet, and i'm just wounding what it looks like(the video's i've seen just don't show this very well)
thanks and keep up the amazing work,

Vladimir says:
2011-01-04 20:12:45

, ! .
10 , - . , , , , . . .
, !

. 2011

There were some Russians in this videos, so I told them a few words in Russian.
It was a great experiment!

RUS says:
2011-01-11 19:36:40

Why it is invisible stars??

Adrian says:
2011-01-17 01:59:39

A great project illustrated well with a good web site.
Well done.
Just a thought regarding problems with the parachute.....
Replace the instrument enclosure with a glider....
You already have a GPS unit on board. Use that to control a couple of servos and fly the package back to the launching site.
Less distance to travel to retrieve the unit.
I admire what you have done.
Might even have a go myself some time in the future.

Wikki says:
2011-01-20 02:34:21

hi there i m really interested in your project...and btw very nice job....but could u plz do me a favor and send the pictures of all the devices u used becsue in the top picture it is not clear...becasue i m trying to do a project like this one but it has a different approach....can u plz email them to me....that would be very helpful... thx.

Elizabeth says:
2011-01-23 01:18:02

Do you know how many liters of helium it is needed to lift each pound?

Brian says:
2011-01-23 06:54:46

Thanks for the motivation......the kids and I are going to have lots of fun with this. January 23, 2011

gna says:
2011-04-27 00:16:42

Very good project my friends.

And... what about UFOs? :)

And... why only NASA's space videos looks bad?

Ezequiel says:
2011-04-28 18:28:13

Great project, very amuzing photos. keep on flighting

Curt Walker says:
2011-05-02 20:11:48

Thank you for sharing your flight. In a few weeks my friend and I are launching our first balloon with cameras. We are wondering how to determine the correct amount of helium to put into the balloon? Some people say it is possible for the balloon to never burst and keep floating if too little gas is used. Also if too much is used it can pop early and not go as hi. How did you know when to stop filling the balloon?

Your photos and videos are beautiful. I have seen several websites like this between 2007 and 2010, but yours is one of the best. I am hoping to capture video of the balloon popping. I have not seen this done yet.

Thanks again,

Curt Walker says:
2011-05-02 20:17:20

I forgot to ask, what instrument did you use to determine your maximum altitude?

AHAB says:
2011-06-14 15:57:58

I was wondering what pressure sensor you used for this and where i can find one for my self

MySelf says:
2011-06-14 21:20:53

Hello, I think your Halo project is really great and your achivement is really impressive. Congratulations for your pictures and videos.

I would like to try the same here in France, but for such experiments, an authorization has to be requested from Airliners Authority.

I wonder if there is some danger for people when payload is coming down, if parachute is not working well. Don't you think a heavy payload coming down quickly could be dangerous for people living near landing spot ?

Jason Sager says:
2011-07-25 22:13:25

Here is our launch video from Saturday:


3,000 gram Kaymont, 114K feet, -91F, 4 GoPro. We will update more info at AccessSpace.org.

Mike Hirsch and says:
2011-09-30 13:02:25

We are science fair students who are interested in your weather ballooning experiment. We have done a previous along the same lines, but had a little trouble with our gps and live data stream equiptment. We saw your display of equiptment and were wondering if you could share a little more in depth about how you assembled it and if you may have any tips that we could use.

Mike and Nate

Mikhail says:
2011-10-21 23:18:05

I am looking to find an altimeter to measure altitude at heights of up to 100,000ft for a simillar project, I was wondering how you went about setting up your system to record altitude in sync with time?

Michele says:
2011-11-02 19:44:21

Spettacolare!! Fantastico!!!
saluti dall'Italia

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© 2007 Alexei Karpenko, Contact: alexei*karpenko.ca