Monday, January 2, 2012

re: iPads in Space

I don't know what you guys did over your Christmas break but we sent an iPad to space.

For reals.

Derek gave his dad and brothers a big blue box for Christmas, inside which was a big blue balloon that popped up with a note promising a day of adventure.



Basically, Derek wanted to launch a weather balloon into near space with a few cameras attached, and once the balloon got so high that it popped and fell back to earth, we'd hunt it down and retrieve it and see what kind of pictures that it took.

Before we left the house, we enlisted the help of our five year old niece to write a note to any potential finders of our balloon, begging them to return the balloon (and iPad, and all the other expensive gear we would be tying to the weather balloon) and hope that whoever happened upon it would have a heart.


The next thing we knew, Derek had us hauling things like enormous helium tanks and weather balloons out to a field.


Many things were duct taped and tied together, including a GoPro camera and iPad for documenting the journey to space, a pretty gold ball for deflecting radar (or to stand in for a disco party later), a red parachute for the flight back down, a GPS so that we could find everything later, little hand warmers to keep the machinery toasty and functioning in negative degree space weather, and a custom made metal contraption to hold it all together - all weighing in under the 4 pounds required to keep us from having to have official paperwork saying that we can launch things into (near) space.



We filled the weather balloon with helium until it was about 7 feet in diameter, and when we let it go ... well - it left for space in a hurry.




This is us watching it go:


This is the balloon, watching us watch it go.


The GPS tracked the progress of the balloon, and after a few hours of nail biting, we finally got a signal letting us know that our balloon had landed in the middle of nowhere a few hours southeast of where we had launched it.


When Derek finally tracked it down, the cameras had some treats like these:





Not a scratch on the iPad. We've still got two more weather balloons, so we may be making a habit of this.

26 comments:

m-l-e said...

So amazing! Seriously!!

Lady Danburry said...

Awesome! If there was a business about being cool, you two would own the building.

Joshua said...

so cool....

Human Bean said...

Wow. If I show this to my kids they will wish you were their mom instead of me. How does one go about acquiring something like a weather balloon? I am in all sorts of awe right now!

bex said...

Derek had to order stuff from all over the internet. He was actually considering putting some kits together with instructions and materials, so I'll let you know if he makes it happen!

David Pulsipher said...

words cannot capture my enthusiasm for this endeavor.

Mindy said...

That is beyond rad. I love it. My husband instantly jumped on the idea. Let us know too if Derek is making kits. It would be so fun to see what we could get from Vegas. Can you fly these things at night? Would the pictures turn out? So many questions here is Sin City.

two forks said...

okay that is rad.

Anonymous said...

wow wow wow. Citibank has nothing on you guys! This could be a business. Wild and wonderful.

Roger and Mary

MLE said...

Fun! Let's do this when you come to UT-for the mountain shots. I love the idea!
eb

D. Martindale said...

Where did Derek's brother get those polar bear pajama pants?

Miss K said...

AMAZING!
You are brave, sending that ipad up so high. If I had one, I would carry it around in a pillow all day, ha ha!

mary smith said...

My iPad started shaking when I pulled up your post. Apparently a fear of flying requiring expensive therapy. Thanks a lot!

Miggy said...

A new balloon boy is born.

You guys are amazing. I hope this gets picked up by major television stations and that you guys become rich and famous for such a brilliant idea and execution. People have become R&F for a whole lot less.

Bra-vo.

PS--so how did you get the ipad back exactly? Just track, drive, stop and look?

francine said...

please please please let us know if derek puts a kit together! my fiance would DIE if we did this!!

Courtney said...

You guys are probably the coolest people I will ever know. Thank you for letting me be your friend :)

Ryan said...

Just as I suspected, the world IS flat.

Ruth said...

You should send this to Apple...

bex said...

Dave - don't worry - the green PJ polar bear pants will be part of the space kit once we get it together.

bex said...

Miggy - yup. we waited til the GPS signal stopped moving, and figured the contraption had landed. Then we made our way over to the coordinates the GPS gave us drove to find it (and hit a few "no tresspassing" signs and locked gates on the way) and eventually retrieved the whole thing. It was kind of a gamble - we weren't 100% sure we'd get it back.

Thanks to everyone else for all the comments too!!

Robyn Kessler said...

you guys make the rest of us look bad.

RAENOVATE said...

you have the coolest family of all time.

Janan said...

too cool

Rebecca - A Daily Something said...

WOW. You and your family are amazing. The pictures are incredible. I gotta show this idea to my boyrfriend ;)

Veeda said...

This is the coolest thing ever.

elsa bags said...

you guys are so fun! seriously!