Sending a Camera to Space

If you’re wanting to send a camera up on a weather balloon to the edge of space and back, there are a lot of different ways you can do so.  Most high-altitude weather balloon flights that are performed by amateurs will feature onboard cameras to capture the breathtaking views from a place that most humans can never get to themselves. Most flights will use a small action camera, like the GoPro. These small action cameras are great because they’re small, lightweight, weather-resistant, and can withstand the cold temperatures of the upper atmosphere. They’re also easy to use, and you can simply start recording on the ground and let it run for the remainder of your flight.  The actual GoPro brand cameras are great. If it’s your first flight, you may want to consider something less expensive, such as a Runcam.  These cameras take fantastic footage and are very inexpensive.

Your high-altitude weather balloon flight is generally going to last somewhere between 90 to 120 minutes on accent, so you’ll need to consider battery life for your cameras. Most action cameras like the GoPro can capture continuous video for 60-120 minutes depending on the resolution with their stock battery, so you’ll need to consider adding an external battery pack to your camera to keep it powered on for the entire flight. Using an external battery pack can be tricky, however. If you’re adding an extended battery pack to an action camera, you’ll want to make sure that your camera can record at the same time that it is charging. Also, ensure that it doesn’t cause your battery pack to turn off once the camera is fully charged.  Some battery packs will continue to trickle power to the camera once fully charged, and some battery packs will completely shut off once it’s fully charged.  That means, if you launch a fully charged camera, it may never use the battery pack and die mid-flight.  Ideally, use a battery pack that doesn’t shut off once fully charged.  If you can’t find this type, a trick would be to start your flight with a mid-drained camera battery.  The first half of your flight will record video while your camera is charged, then if the battery pack shuts off once charged, you should hopefully be able to finish out the flight with just the camera’s built-in battery.

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