Like many youngsters, 7-year-old Max Geissbuhler and his Dad dreamed of visiting the outer space. So, they armed with just a weather balloon, video camera, and an iPhone to do it.
Luke Geissbuhler, from Brooklyn, NY, and his son teamed up to send their homemade spacecraft up nearly 19 miles, high into the stratosphere, bringing back perhaps the most impressive amateur space footage ever.
The duo housed the video camera, iPhone, and GPS equipment in a specially designed insulated casing, along with some hand-warmers and a note from Max Geissbuhler requesting its safe return from whomever may find it after making it back to solid ground.
All told, father and son spent eight months preparing for their homemade journey into space, in hopes of filming “the blackness beyond our earth”.
The two spent eight months researching and testing their homemade craft, in hopes of filming ‘the blackness beyond our earth,’ before launching it in Newburgh, NY.
Then, one day in August, Max and his father headed out to a nearby park to see their dreams realized. After attaching their equipment to a 19-inch weather balloon and switching on the camera, they watched as their simple craft disappear high into the sky.
The phone apparently braved winds of 100 miles-per-hour and temperatures as cold as 60 below zero (the iPhone was smartly packed with hand warmers).
After a little over an hour, the craft reached the stratosphere, 100 thousand feet overhead, capturing some incredible footage of space before the balloon popped and fell back towards the earth.
They found their homemade spacecraft 30 miles away from the launch point, in a tree, where the father and son found it in the dark because of the iPhone’s LED light.
Although the camera’s battery died some minutes before touching-down, the footage it returned is no short of impressive. And despite the fact that the craft didn’t technically reach the boundaries of space, Max and his father are undoubtedly proud of their accomplishment.
Luke Geissbuhler described the experience on the video he uploaded to the Internet: “In August 2010, we set out to send a camera to space. The mission was to attach a HD video camera to a weather balloon and send it up into the upper stratosphere to film the blackness beyond our earth.”
He continued: “Eventually, the balloon will grow from lack of atmospheric pressure, burst, and begin to fall. It would have to survive 100 mph winds, temperatures of 60 degrees below zero, speeds of over 150 mph, and the high risk of a water landing.”
“To retrieve the craft, it would need to deploy a parachute, descend through the clouds and transmit a GPS coordinate to a cell phone tower. Then we have to find it. Needless to say, there are a lot of variables to overcome,” he added.