Students Send Nikon D300s to Space in a Beer Cooler

Sending cameras to the edges of space on a weather balloon has become a pretty popular activity as of late, but up to now people were mostly sending up cell phones, compact cameras, and small HD video cameras (e.g. GoPros). While those devices are light and relatively cheap, the quality of images produced isn’t the best.

Well, Texas Tech students Erich Leeth and Terry Presley recently decided to step things up a notch by using a Nikon D300s and Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens for their space photography. Their craft, which consisted of a 22-foot weather balloon filled with helium and a styrofoam beer cooler purchased from Walmart, rose to an estimated 100K feet before the balloon popped. A parachute then brought the pricey gear safely back down to Earth. The entire project took just 13 days from start to finish, and the duo managed to capture some pretty neat photos from the edge of space.

Cygnus Project on Flickr (via DIYPhotography via PopPhoto)

  • Kaouthia

    Very neat, shame about the condensation on some of those.

  • chuck

    How do they find the landing spot?

  • Corros

    Not very new. I’ve seen such images three years ago:

    But impressive to see how much you can have with these simple tools!

  • Geauxpez
  • Aus_Guy

    I’m sure everyone would love it if a couple of D300s zoomed through an engine of a 747… :| Cool project nonetheless though. Just seems risky.

  • Erich Leeth

    We posted at NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) with the FAA prior to launch. Pilots knew to watch for it. Thanks for the support everyone!

    We’ll be launching again in a few weeks. I think we’ve solved all the problems we had. This payload will have a video camera as well!!

  • digitalloupe

    Just show them Google Earth – it’s realy easy to use, no need to send DSLR to space.

  • Ken Yee

    And note that the Pentax K10D didn’t need a beer cooler and is a few generations older than the D300s ;-)

  • Aztht6ee

    whats the subject ?

  • Groove

    There’s a lot of these things flying around up there all the time.  Weather balloons fly above the altitude that airplanes do.

  • Halibut

    How does one go about finding and retrieving the camera after it returns to earth?