As a kid one of my most requested bedtime story reads was Balloonia by Audrey Wood, a tale of the fun adventures in store for a balloon that gets loose (a sad occasion for any child).
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Perhaps that's why I find this "Homemade Spacecraft" video to be as charming as it is amazing. Brooklyn dad Luke Geissbuhler and his young son Max built a "capsule" for an iPhone 4 and an HD video camera out of a takeout box and attached it to a weather balloon. They released it, camera running, to find out where balloons REALLY go when they're left to their own devices.
The camera-balloon endured 100-mph winds and freezing temperatures to reach a height of 19 miles--approximately 100,000 feet above the Earth's surface--before bursting from pressure and plummeting back to earth. The camera recorded audio and visual the entire time, except a minute or so before landing a mere 30 miles outside of New York City. They were able to locate the takeout-space capsule in a tree using the iPhone's GPS signal and LED light.
Is this legal? Yes, the balloon and capsule were made in accordance with FAA regulations and released outside of the city to avoid contact with passing aircraft. A how-to guide for the experiment and other information is available through The Brooklyn Space Program, also created by Luke and Max. Look out NASA.