Taking Pictures of Space




i am part of a group called project aether (www.ProjectAether.org) and the following instructable is from our website where you can buy the kits to make your own hd space cam

About Project Aether

What we do:
We launch high altitude weather balloons in collaboration with schools to teach students physics concepts, experimental research skills, and to make space exploration accessible to students. A weather balloon lifts a specially designed payload package that is composed of HD cameras, GPS tracking devices, and other science equipment. The payload is constructed and attached to the balloon by the students with low-cost materials. The balloon and payload are launched with FAA clearance from a site chosen based on wind patterns and predicted landing locations. The balloon ascends over 2 hours to a maximum altitude of 100,000 feet where it bursts and allows the payload to slowly descend using a built-in parachute. The balloon's location is monitored during its flight by GPS-satellite relay. The payload is located using the GPS device and the HD video and high-resolution still images are recovered from the cameras and shared with the students.

Why we do it:
Ben enjoyed hands-on exploration projects as a student and wanted to provide similar, and bigger and better, experiences for the next generation. Project Aether was started in order to put inspiring videos of the edge of space on YouTube to reach students across the world. It was then expanded to a "Design, Build, Fly" project to involve students in the entire exploration process.

Who we are:
Ben Longmier, Ph.D., founder and director of Project Aether, earned his Ph.D. in plasma physics in 2007 from the University of Wisconsin and has been working with the Ad Astra Rocket Company on the development of their Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR).   Ben co-founded the Space Center Lecture Series and runs a space and science demonstration video repository on YouTube.  He also enjoys flying general aviation aircraft, SCUBA diving, and playing ice hockey.

Elizabeth Longmier, M.D., Ben's wife and a family physician, helps with student education and launch organization. She is also the official photographer.

Volunteers at the launch and prior to launch day are an integral part of Project Aether. Past volunteers have been class parents, college students, and even rocket scientists from Ad Astra Rocket Company. A special thanks to AIAA-Houston members, ACAE members, and Invenio students and staff.

The most important Project Aether participants, of course, are the high school and college students.

What does Aether mean?:
"Aether, in Greek mythology, is one of the first-born elemental gods. He is the personification of the upper sky, space, and heaven, and is the elemental god of the "Bright, Glowing, Upper Air." He is the pure upper air that the gods breathe, as opposed to the normal air mortals breathe."


Step 1: Materials

this is the kit i bought it has everything you need to launch into space the instruction to build are in the package but you dont really need them it is common sense on how to put it together so i am not going to bother with that step

once again this is pulled from the website

Fly-it-yourself HD High Altitude Balloon Package*

ncludes all hardware required to take 1080p HD video for 2.1 hrs from the edge of space.* You supply the helium. Also has the ability to capture 5MP still images every 2-60 seconds for 4 hrs when operated in photo mode. No tools required for assembly, assembles in 20 minutes. Ships in 10 business days. Free shipping within the U.S., please inquire about international shipping. Can launch 3 times with 3 included balloons.

The images on this website were taken using this kit + the 10 W APRS Radio GPS unit.

- SPOT GPS tracking device** w/ Li batteries
- GoPro 1080p HD waterproof camera, Li battery, vacuum rated housing and mounting bracket
- 16 GB SD card
- 3x 600g weather balloons (enough for 3 launches)
- 36" neon parachute
- 36" passively stabilized pultruded carbon fiber payload structure w/ built-in radar reflector
- 300 ft of polyester string and winding spool for easy deployment
- Carabineer connections for easy field assembly
- Gas cylinder brass fitting and balloon fill tube
- Black latex gloves for handeling balloon
- Waterproof recovery note (i.e. If found, countact_____)
- Waterproof launch checklist
- Step-by-step assembly instructions.
- Step-by-step launch instructions.
- U.S. FAA instructions.

* requires 50 to 150 cuft of helium at atmospheric pressure (roughly 1/3 to 1 full K-sized helium bottle), depending on balloon size. This can be purchased at Party City, Air Liquide, Praxair, etc. This usually costs $100 to $150 per bottle.
** requires $99/year service + $50/year tracking service contract through SPOT GPS.

Step 2: Space Launch

here is a video from launch to space



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    15 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    You lie! The international space station orbits at 250+ miles high, a camera at 100,000 ft or 20 miles could never be able to see it especially a GoPro

    6 replies

    You can actually see the ISS from the ground with the naked eye. It will look like a star moving across the sky. You can simply google "ISS for the ground" and see plenty of pictures of it. The streak you see in most of them is simply because of the speed it's moving across the sky.

    I don't know what's in the picture, but it isn't absurd to think it could be the ISS.

    You can actually see the ISS from the ground with the naked eye. It will look like a star moving across the sky. You can simply google "ISS for the ground" and see plenty of pictures of it. The streak you see in most of them is simply because of the speed it's moving across the sky.

    I don't know what's in the picture, but it isn't absurd to think it could be the ISS.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    thank you for clarifying that up for me i changed the tag. Do you think it could be a satellite maybe? or perhaps just space junk


    6 years ago on Introduction

    If you're interested my new instructable on near space balloons is published!



    7 years ago on Introduction

    Materials for doing your own launch are on www.ProjectAether.org

    or at Amazon with 1-click buy:

    Weather Balloons:

    Carbon Fiber Tubing that fits with 1/2" PVC plumbing parts:


    7 years ago on Introduction

    WOW! Where were you when I was a Kid?!!
    Question: How far ( I would suppose to the east) do you usually find the unit?
    No problems with authorities? No "airspace" incursion issues?
    One of the most awesome 'ibles I've ever seen. What school wouldn't want to be apart of THIS?!! Talk about capturing student's enthusiasm....


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Awsome picture...and the movie is just amazing. Voted for you