Robert Harrison began investigating high-altitude weather balloons after attempting to take aerial photos of his house with a remote control helicopter. However, Harrison soon realized that a high-altitude balloon could reach much higher altitudes, allowing him to take pictures of much more than just his house.
Mr. Harrison's family was skeptical about his idea to take pictures of the Earth from space but the Daily Mail reports he launched his first mini spacecraft, named Icarus I, in October 2008. Any doubts his family and friends had were soon stifled and Harrison has launched a dozen capsules over the last two years.
"The pictures speak for themselves. People think this is something that costs millions but it doesn't," Harrison told the Daily Mail.
With a £500 budget (roughly $750), Harrison's contraption incorporates GPS technology; a radio transmitter a regular, point-and-shoot digital camera and a parachute to guide the camera back to Earth. The whole thing is wrapped in insulating material and housed in a polystyrene box. The camera is programmed to take photos every five minutes and when the box hits 22 miles, the balloon pops and the parachute automatically deploys. Mr Harrison uses the GPS to track the device's movement and then, once it lands, the radio transmitter to locate it. He has recovered the device from up to 50 miles away.