iPhone 4 launched into space with weather balloon

Ian Paul
20 October, 2010
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We’ve seen iPhones in blenders, aerial balloons and underwater, but this may be the first time someone has launched an iPhone into space. The father and son duo of Luke and Max Geissbuhler recently launched a weather balloon into the upper stratosphere – about 30 kilometres above the planet’s surface. The contraption included an iPhone 4 and a separate HD video camera to capture images of the Earth. The duo didn’t use the iPhone 4’s camera capabilities, but instead used the smartphone as a GPS tracking device for their spacecraft.

How it worked

The team said it took eight months of research and testing leading up to launch day. The contraption needed to survive 160km winds, temperatures of -50 degrees Celcius and speeds of up to 240 kilometres per hour.

The space faring set-up included an insulated capsule with hand warmers to keep the electronics from freezing, a GoPro HD video camera, and an iPhone 4 running Instamapper’s GPS Tracker.

The capsule was attached to a weather balloon designed to burst once it reached 19 feet (around six metres) in diameter. It lifted off from Newburgh, New York on a slightly overcast day in August. As the space balloon rose through the atmosphere – at a rate of around 8 metres every second – the balloon slowly began to expand from the atmospheric pressure. Once the balloon burst, the capsule had a parachute to slow the contraption’s 240km/h descent back to Earth. The father and son duo found their space-faring capsule about 50km from the launch site. The result of the capsule’s voyage was a 100 minute video including some impressive high altitude shots of the planet.

See video of the weather balloon in action below:

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