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Paper Planes in Near Space

Could paper airplanes and helium balloons be cheaper solutions for space photography?

  • November 12, 2010

A space enthusiast from the United Kingdom has captured some stunning images of Earth by sending a paper plane equipped with cameras 27.3 kilometers in the air aboard helium weather balloon.

Vulture 1 paper plane. Credit: The Register

The plane, called Vulture 1, has a one meter wingspan and was built out of paper straws and stiff paper. It was developed by Lester Haines, Steve Daniel, and John Oates, who got the idea from a Japanese proposal to throw paper planes from the International Space Station, according to Space.com. The group released the plane from a staging ground in Spain, and were able to recover it in a nearby wooded area. The project cost about $13,000.

Photo take by Vulture 1. Credit: The Register

More and more people are sending intriguing, low-cost projects into near space–stratosphere or upper atmosphere–using balloons, one of the oldest flight technologies. A balloon took the world’s first communications satellite into space 50 years ago.

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