Home Movies from Space: The Do-It-Yourself Unmanned Space Craft

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NASA Goddard Photo and Video via Flickr
Does the name Wayne Szalinski ring a bell? He was a quirky scientist/inventor from the suburbs simply trying to wow the scientific community when he accidentally shrunk his kids with a state-of-the-art electro-magnetic shrink ray.

None of that happened in real life; it was the plot of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, which arguably introduced the world to a do-it-yourself approach to scientific exploration. Though we're probably decades away from being able to miniaturize ourselves, we may not be too far from DIY space exploration.

Luke Geissbuhler is the founder of an organization "formed by a group of friends in New York City" called the Brooklyn Space Program. According the website, BSP was formed to promote "scientific exploration, engineering, design and education."

Recently, Geissbuhler and his seven-year old son, Max, captured some pretty interesting video some 100,000 feet above the Earth's surface. For their project, Space Balloon, the father/son team rigged a weather balloon with a styrofoam take-out box containing a camera and an iPhone for tracking purposes. To prevent freezing, the amateur scientists wrapped both items in hand warmers and released the balloon into space. 

What began as a very cool bonding experience, resulted in some remarkable footage from space. At 19-miles above the Earth, the balloon popped and the container experienced a brief moment of weightlessness.

According to the video, the contraption reaches "maximum speed at approximately 150 MPH, even with the parachute deployed." Ultimately, the package was found 30-miles from the original launch-site using the phone's GPS coordinates.

Though Space Balloon doesn't unravel any scientific mysteries or present new images of the upper stratosphere that other, more powerful cameras haven't already revealed in the past, it does open the door for future DIY space exploration. Who needs NASA when we've got the Internet, right?


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