Two years ago, a group of friends decided to attach a GoPro camera to a weather balloon and perform a little experiment. Their aim was to capture some footage from up to wherever the camera could reach. With the camera encased in a 3D printed body, they drove 20 miles west of the Grand Canyon to launch their little space camera. The camera was able to capture its journey on the way up and even caught a glimpse of the team’s heads
When it finally reached the edge of the Earth, the weather balloon burst, like what they always do when they are way up in the sky. After its 87 minute ascend to space, the camera went tumbling down as what was initially planned. Everything was going smoothly as planned, until the time came when they had to get the camera after its fall.
Bryan Chan, one of the members of the crew responsible for launching the GoPro camera to space explained the incident in a post on Reddit:
We planned our June 2013 launch at a specific time and place such that the phone was projected to land in an area with cell coverage. The problem was that the coverage map we were relying on (looking at you, AT&T) was not accurate, so the phone never got signal as it came back to Earth, and we never heard from it. We didn’t know this was the problem at the time – we thought our trajectory model was far off and it landed in a signal dead zone (turns out the model was actually quite accurate). The phone landed ~50 miles away from the launch point, from what I recall. It’s a really far distance considering there’s hardly any roads over there! TWO YEARS LATER, in a twist of ironic fate, a woman who works at AT&T was on a hike one day and spotted our phone in the barren desert. She brings it to an AT&T store, and they identify my friend’s SIM card. We got the footage and data a few weeks later!
Check out the video to see the footage caught by the team’s camera