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A view from JP Aerospace's Tandem airship, at its record-breaking altitude of 95,085 feet ...

On October 22nd, just a day after the first manned flight of an electric multicopter took place in Germany, California’s JP Aerospace achieved an aeronautical feat of its own – it broke the record for the world’s highest airship flight. Remotely controlled from the ground, the all-volunteer group’s Tandem twin-balloon airship reportedly ascended to an altitude of 95,085 feet (28,982 meters). That’s almost four miles (6.4 km) higher than any airship has gone before.  Read More

The bloon is designed to fly passengers to near-space at an altitude of 36 km

While space tourism efforts by the likes of Space Adventures and Virgin Galactic are relying on the tried and true technology of rockets to launch paying customers into space, Barcelona-based company zero2infinity proposes a more leisurely and eco-friendly ride into near-space using a helium balloon. Designed to carry passengers to an altitude of 36 km (22 miles), an unmanned scale prototype bloon was flown to an altitude of 33 km (20 miles) last year and the company is already taking bookings for passenger flights that are expected to lift off sometime between 2013 and 2015.  Read More

Up, up and away ... the BEXUS 11 balloon, all 12,000m3 of it, just before take-off. The ba...

An off-the-shelf camera from Axis Communications has set the world record for the highest wireless network camera delivering high quality images to Earth. The PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) dome network camera was sent into the atmosphere to a height of 35 km (21. 7 miles) from the Esrange Space Center, north of Sweden, as part of the BEXUS 11 program.  Read More

The universal gripper writing with a pen (Image: John Amend, Cornell University)

While creating robotic grippers to pick up objects that are all the same shape and consistency is relatively easy, difficulties arise when trying to create one versatile enough to handle a wider variety of objects. The flexibility of the human hand has led many robotics researchers to borrow the familiar four finger and opposable thumb template that has served us so well, but getting the robotic hand to exert enough force to grip a variety of objects without breaking the more fragile ones is still a difficult task. For this reason a team of researchers has bypassed the traditional human hand and fingers design to create a versatile gripper using everyday coffee grounds and a latex party balloon.  Read More

An image of the earth and the blackness of outer space, obtained by Luke and Max Geissbuhl...

It’s an inspiring story that reminds you how the wonders of scientific exploration aren’t just limited to research institutions with big budgets... in August of this year, Luke Geissbuhler and his seven year-old son Max attached an HD video camera to a weather balloon and set it loose. They proceeded to obtain footage of the blackness of outer space, 19 miles (30 km) above the surface of the earth. Needless to say, there was a little more to it than just tying a piece of string around a camcorder.  Read More

Felix Baumgartner practicing for his big, big jump

Later this year, Felix Baumgartner will put on a pressurized space suit and helmet, climb into a capsule suspended beneath a balloon, ride 120,000 feet into the earth’s upper atmosphere, then jump out and – before deploying his parachute – try to break the speed of sound while in freefall. That’s the plan, at least, for the insanely-dangerous Red Bull Stratos event. If successful, it will constitute the world’s highest manned balloon flight, highest parachute jump, and fastest and longest freefall. The team conducted three important tests in the last week of May, that they just released the details of this week. What those tests entailed would probably be hair-raising enough to last most of us a lifetime.  Read More

Zeppy 3 will shortly sail across a stretch of Mediterranean waters using only the power of...

Preparations are underway for a 150 mile journey from southern France to Corsica in a sail balloon. High flyer Stéphane Rousson is planning to pilot Zeppy 3 across a stretch of Mediterranean waters using only the power of the wind and a curved carbon foil based on the chien de mer by Didier Costes. Gizmag took the opportunity to have a closer look at the new balloon at the recent Paris Green Air Show.  Read More

The Water Bomb Factory will arm you lots of fun this summer

Where was this product when I was growing up? Aqua Antics’ Water Bomb Factory is a child’s dream come true. Just watching the video (below) conjures up (slightly evil) thoughts of saturating family, friends and foe. Overton’s – basically a watersport enthusiast’s supermarket – says the Water Bomb Factory lets children (of all ages) tie up to ten balloons a minute, which could arm kids with a sizable stockpile in no time at all.  Read More

A snap showing the balloon popped at high altitude

After receiving an email from a Japanese enthusiast, a group of amateur radio high altitude balloon buffs jumped at the chance to help record the first ever non-professional near space high definition video, and maybe set a new altitude record on the way. After squeezing the HD camcorder and tracking hardware into a styrofoam box, and a couple of false starts, the 1500g high altitude, hydrogen-filled balloon was away.  Read More

The Earth as seen from probably the cheapest balloon photography setup ever

Attaching a camera to a helium-filled balloon, a group of students from MIT recently managed to get some pretty decent photographs of our beautiful planet from an estimated 93000 feet up. Nothing remarkable there you might say - high altitude balloon photography has been around a long, long time - until you consider the cost of the experiment: about USD$150.  Read More

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