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).
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.
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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.