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Welcome to — Project Icarus, home of the original $150 near-space launch!

UPDATE: 8/7/10  We have created a forum.  If you have questions, comments, or just want to show your near-space launch, post HERE!

UPDATE: 5/12/10 Check out!  We’re helping citizens to use balloons, kites, and other simple and inexpensive tools to produce their own aerial imagery of the spill… documentation that will be essential for environmental and legal use in coming years.

UPDATE: 10/30/09:  Want to do it yourself? Visit GUIDE, a compilation of detailed information regarding what we did for our launch.

Click Here for archive of updates

1337arts Space

***CAUTION/DISCLAIMER: Launching things into the stratosphere can be DANGEROUS! Please contact the FAA before trying any launches (even if they are under 4 lbs.) to make sure your vehicle won’t be entering restricted airspace and PLEASE check the University of Wyoming’sBalloon Trajectory Predictor(or a similar website) to make sure you balloon won’t be landing in the city/a populated area where it might cause significant damage. Also, be sure to test your balloon’s terminal velocity for descent before launching. We tested our parachute by putting eggs inside of our styrofoam box and tossing the box off of a 5 story building. We were not satisfied with the landing speed of our box until the eggs did not break upon the box’s impact.

About Project Icarus

We are a group of MIT students seeking to share the artistic aspects of science with others. On Sept. 2, 2009, we launched a digital camera into near-space to take photographs of the earth from high up above. (see “Flight”)

Several groups have accomplished similar feats (see “Other Launches”), but as far we know, we are the first group ever to:

(1) Complete such a launch on a budget of $150 total. All of our supplies (including camera, GPS tracking, weather balloon, and helium) were purchased for less than a grand total of $150.

(2) Create a launch vehicle without the use of any electronic hacking. We used off-the-shelf items exclusively (i.e., no electronic chips or soldering) to create our launch vehicle.

The results were fantastic. Our ultra low-budget balloon went 17.5 miles high into the uppermost parts of the stratosphere and returned 5 hours later.  We tracked the device with GPS and found it some 20 miles away from the launch site.

Check us out on CNN, FOX, ABC! Click here to watch the Fox video, Click here to watch the CNN video.  Click here to watch the ABC video

Project Icarus Details:
WhoOliver Yeh Justin LeeEric Newton
Launch Date/TimeSeptember 2nd, 2009, 11:45 EST
Launch LocationSturbridge, MA - 42.12074, -72.06233
Impact LocationWorcester, MA - 42.25504, -71.71943
Distance Traveled~20 miles
Altitude Achieved98,000 feet, 17.5 miles
Helium Used~65 cubic feet
Weight~800g, 28oz
CameraCanon A470 /w chdk open source firmware
Batteries4 Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA Batteries
GPS RecieverMotorola i290 Prepaid Cellphone (“Boost Mobile”)
Tracking SoftwareAccutrackingInstamapper
Flight pathGoogle Earth kml
FAA regulationLegal as long as payload is under 4 pounds

**Below is a video for people who cannot access Youtube (e.g., people in China)

Timelapse on Vimeo.

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