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Last Updated: Monday, 18 September 2006, 18:16 GMT 19:16 UK
Low-cost space flight for camera
View from 30km above Cambridge (Picture courtesy of Cambridge University)
The flight lasted about three hours, producing more than 800 images
Engineering students from Cambridge University have sent a camera to the edge of space for less than 1,000.

Carl Morland, Henry Hallam and Robert Fryers attached the tiny camera to a helium balloon, which flew to nearly four times the height of Everest.

Throughout the flight it took images which show the curvature of the earth.

The students hope Project Nova will allow small rockets to be sent into space for just several hundred pounds, instead of a six-figure sums.

Mr Morland said: "Once we can take a larger payload stably up to 30km (18.6m) we will be in a position to launch a rocket from the balloon that will reach the 100km (62.1m) boundary of space for a tiny fraction of the present cost.

Three hour flight

"By using a balloon to go as high as possible, a considerably smaller rocket can be used as there is much less drag due to the thinner air."

The trio followed the balloon's movements from Churchill College in Cambridge using a special tracking system.

As the balloon rose it expanded and exactly two hours after lift-off, at an altitude of 32.2km (20m) above sea level, it burst, releasing the camera which was brought back to earth by parachute.

The flight lasted about three hours, producing more than 800 images.

Project Nova is part of Cambridge University Spaceflight, a student-run organisation dedicated to space flight development.

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