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Landing & Retrieval

The parachute slowed down the fall sufficiently for the capsule to stay together in one piece.  The Motorola i290 managed to send out its gps location before landing. Although our the electronics suffered no damage (low impact velocity), the cell phone antenna burrowed into the ground upon landing, preventing further transmission of gps location.

We were also lucky that the capsule landed in a soft-earthed construction field with a clear view of the sky. Retrieval would definitely have been a much more difficult process had our device landed in a lake or in the forest.

Found it! Simply amazing

Found it! Simply amazing

making sure the camera is ok

Making sure the camera is ok

Inspecting the capsule

Inspecting the capsule

checking the exciting photos!
Checking the exciting photos!



150 comments to Landing/Retrieval


    I think it could be dangerous if it fall on a running car or walking people. More care should be taken!

    • Anonymous

      Why do you have to ruin the fun!

    • SiB

      Is your next suggestion going to be, “I think we should not go outside because something might just happen thats bad”

    • BeauSteadman

      To this and all the other “sky is falling” concerns:

      Weather balloons and other scientific balloons have been used THOUSANDS of times. The greater altitude of this one may make the expected landing area larger, but the ambiguity of the specific landing site is the same for all of them. Grow up.

    • MannyE

      We need to lighten up on the safety concerns. There’s no way to guarantee nothing will go wrong. But the entire contraption is very light. The chances of it making a direct hit on a moving vehicle are astronomical, if that happens, you have to factor in the further chances of it actually damaging the vehicle, then after that the chances that the reaction of the driver will cause something really dangerous. Using that logic, motorcycles, bicycles, pickup trucks with coolers in the back, and birds should be removed from the roads.

      Not trying to insult you, but come on… this ultra-safety conciousness is one of the things (there are many other variables) that are slowing the progess of innovation and imagination in the USA… not to mention creating a heck of a lot of fat kids.

      • OsoMartinez

        “..The chances of it making a direct hit on a moving vehicle are astronomical…” No, the low probability of an event like this would be more ‘infinitesimal’, not ‘astronomical’ since probabilities ‘p’ are 0<=p<=1

    • Concerned Citizen

      No, SSKIM is right. If you read the text and look at the photos, the antenna from the phone clearly projects past the edge of the cooler. Imagine walking along, minding your own business, when, from out of nowhere, nearly 2 lbs of javelin wielding space junk comes crashing into your eyeball! That’s like a rubber band times a million, and it most certainly COULD PUT SOMEONE’S EYE OUT!!!

  • mai


    from the philippines

  • Awesome

    How exactly did you manage for it to “land”? Was there a parachute attached? Or did it fall straight to Earth? If it did, then I’m amazed it survived the impact. (But perhaps it was because it was low-weight?)

  • legit concern

    A lot of people dismissed the dangerous factor here. I think SSKIM is right regarding running cars. It could cause serious accident if a car try to evade it on a fast moving highway traffic. Can you guarantee the parachute will open? How would you feel if something like that happen?

    I am really liking innovation and smart ideas though and am not trying to be negative about it. kudo to u guys but be smarter next time.

    • Anonymous

      dude weather stations send those up all the time be more aware of reality, like literally every day they send up weather balloons

    • Fadi

      Are you kidding?

      Even in Mass., the actual density of developed land to vacant makes any dangerous situation like you describe highly unlikely.

      If you never leave your car you might not guess it, but the vast majority of even a densly populated East Coast state is uninhabited.

  • Jarold

    Too bad it didn’t land in the midst of a Flat Earth Society meeting.

  • John Kim

    Great job! Maybe next time even higher?

  • me

    Ha ha, legit concern told you to be smarter next time! You just put this together 10x cheaper than the next guy, something he couldn’t figure out and he’s telling you to be smarter!

  • steve

    Excellent Job guys. Obviously some people on this comment box don’t know how to read, as you’ve stated before there will be instructions.
    Man makes me wish I did more fun projects like these when I was in high school or even college.

  • Jim

    Why so few details on the descent method? Parachute, slowly deflating balloon, or popped balloon and free-fall? If something that size hit someone it could hurt/kill at a wide range of speeds. There must be more to this.

    • Fadi

      Seriously? Another one?

      The terminal velocity of a 4lb beer cooler in a 3 cubic foot beer cooler even WITHOUT any parachute or anything would be (making assumtions about drag coefficient) no more than 10 miles per hour.

      You can hit me with a ten mile and hour piece of styrofoam any day.

  • Reality

    Everything is dangerous, everything has some ability to cause harm to something. There are a few billion people in the world losing one or to or 12 in the name of science isn’t that bad. It’s all a matter of perspective and opinion really. If everyone was afraid of someone getting hurt then we would make no advances in science or technology.

    Do you think they (the worlds space agencies) can guarantee that the space station won’t randomly implode or spring an air leak or the computer manufacturers guarantee that your computer won’t set your house/apartment on fire.

    Now that I’ve gotten you paranoid you should turn off your computer and lock it away in a steel box, make sure the box isn’t lead though because you could get lead poisoning.

    • Simon

      You are aware what you’re saying here, no? Are you seriously justifying killing somebody if the cause is good enough? Do you think NASA just point the rocket and light it? Do they send up complete strangers against their will? Last I checked, they hadn’t killed any members of the public. Could you live with yourself if you killed somebody when a bit of planning would have easily prevented it? You are one of those few billion people you speak of – would you be prepared to sacrifice your life at random for somebody else’s project?

      All this is by the by, obviously, since I would assume a lot of prep work was done, and I’m guessing it wasn’t let off in a city. Well done guys – some stunning shots, and I look forward to more information.

      • Reality

        Not justifying it, just saying. I also never said NASA forces people against their will (thanks for the creativity though), I was saying, that with all of their calculations something still can go wrong. (ex: Apollo 1; Apollo 13; Challenger…etc) nothing is certain. What I was getting at was did any of those incidents make people think, “Hmm…maybe we shouldn’t try to go into space?” No. We learned from them. We accepted that there may be problems/accidents. The astronauts knew the dangers yet did them anyway. As for the general public, there’s always that remote chance a piece of something can fall on them. Its just a small chance but its still there.

        Way to think to the extreme though. You can calm down with your knee jerk reactions.

        • Simon

          Wasn’t knee jerk at all. To me, you were suggesting that – if the cause is good enough – people are expendable. People sign up to NASA. They openly accept the consequences and fates. And whilst the general public acknowledge risks all the time, they don’t expect a balloon to land in front of them whilst they are driving (or to be blunt, make it a school bus ploughing through the barriers).

          What it looked like you were suggesting to me was that the progress of technology negated any safety requirements, since it’s too important to slow down.

          If it looked like I took it to the extreme, it was very much deliberate to get the point across.

          I’d very much love to try something similar here, but just couldn’t.

    • Dave

      Your an idiot! I hope you/your family is on the airplane that hits this thing!

  • Baron

    Nice work!

    I think all the haters need to do their own research before trying to bash you.

    The idea is awesome and the fact that you executed the gameplan without any major hiccups is fantastic.

  • Mr.E

    @legit concern- get into MIT and make this smart boy.

    Great job guys

  • Zero

    Sorry for the anonymous name, but that’s how people address me on the NET. Anyway, nice work you guys did, but When I heard about the landing, it made me wonder if it is possible to secure the landing location to fixed spot, like buying and tying loads and loads of strings, but the quarry maybe thrown of course by the wind. Well, you guys are amazing to actually come out with such a project that is amazing and is extremely cheap. Keep up with the good work!

  • TWD

    Hmmm… loads and loads of string? 93,000 feet of string would be really interesting to see, but if it’s taking 40 minutes to fall 93,000 feet, you’d have to reel in about 2,325 feet of string PER MINUTE or risk a line of string draped across miles and miles of roads, houses, trees, power lines, swimming pools, kids playing, and you get the picture… come to think of it, that’d be funny to see and even funnier to see the fit the safety minded posters would throw. Really not meaning to belittle your post, Zero… just trying to imagine it.

    Seriously, guys… cool deal! Really, really cool stuff.

    • Presumably if you attached a cord to the payload you would reel it back in, rather than let it fall. The descent would then be limited to the rate at which you were winding the cord.

      Of course, this doesn’t take into account the possibility of the balloon failing. And as another poster pointed out, the weight of that much cord would make this impossible.

  • Saric

    Consider for a moment the weight of 93,000 feet of string. Then tell me if you still like your own idea.

    • OveractiveImagination

      Come on… I was having fun imagining this guy trying to tie 90,000 feet of fishing line together and then launching it – only to see it go only a couple thousand feet before the weight of it all stopped it from going higher.

  • This would be interesting to do @ dust or late at night to see the lights of the earth and sunset/sunrise!

  • T

    Why is he running around a construction site without any shoes on?

  • Greg

    I think buying over 18 MILES of string (91,000+ feet) would blow the $150 budget completely.

    I am just imagining 18 miles of strong falling from the sky and am cracking myself up laughing. I can see it getting caught in some wind farm turbine and then wrapped around the prop of an airplane and snagging some skyscraper and the whole world disappearing into the black hole it created! (just kidding, but the vision of miles of string falling from the sky is just too funny to inject reality into the picture!)

  • [...] phone managed to send its location before landing but unfortunately got its antenna buried in the ground, preventing further transmission of its location. Photo from [...]

  • hey all, others have been doing this on the cheap for years. Check out Have fun surfing.

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