What does a giant balloon, helium and cameras have in common? Take a look at this.

Edouard Janssens, a Belgian photographer, came up with the idea to send an unmanned camera-carrying ship deep into the stratosphere. My mind thought of NASA and solid-fuel rocketry; Janssens had a better idea. Helium ballon. Brilliant! He named the project Stratos-Sphere.

Officially classified as an “Unmanned free light balloon,” the hoist Janssens used to explore these elevations was a 7-foot latex monstrosity. At around 110,000 feet, the thinning atmosphere pulls the balloon apart. Wind resistance from the descending package opens the parachute, and the cameras’ return trip glides down at a gentle 10mph.

At this point, Jansses has successfully launched and recovered his cameras twice. He dosen’t have plans for a third flight right now, but there could be more coming in the future. *Warning* This can’t be done without an official authorization from your country’s air control regulation authorities and without being covered by a solid insurance policy.

The images he captured will be on display next month in Brussels, Belgium. Janssens used Blow Up 3 to enlarge the images to 60×40 inches. There are plenty of great shots and videos over on the project website. Here is a neat one.

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