Give a father-son team with plenty of imagination eight months and some potentially expendable electronics, and you have the makings of an interesting project.
Seven-year-old Max Geissbuhler and his dad Luke Geissbuhler had a dream to visit space. Short the $25 million fee needed to swing by via Russian spacecraft, they decided to try the next best thing. Get an HD camcorder, iPhone, GPS device and weather balloon, secure them for flight in an insulated container with hand warmers, and provide a parachute for the eventual landing.
Charge the batteries, inflate the balloon, press record on camera and see what happens. Amazingly enough, it worked. It didn't quite make it to space, topping out around 19 miles, but not bad for an amateur team.
Estimated cost of government-run operation: $500 million.
As described in the video information:
"In August 2010, we set out to send a camera to space. The mission was to attach an HD video camera to a weather balloon and send it up into the upper stratosphere to film the blackness beyond our earth. 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"
But hey, they pulled it off. Lesson to learn: dream big.