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Space Photography Platform

Help the team of young enthusiasts launch a space photography platform to take incredible photos of the Earth and Milky Way!

A team of students from University of Southampton Spaceflight Society (SUSF) is working on a project to take photos of space from high altitudes. They’ll send a camera up on a weather balloon to around 100,000 feet (35km) where they can get pictures of the Milky Way galaxy, far better than can be achieved from the ground. They’ve come up with a design and built a platform which uses spinning disks to stabilise the camera, allowing to take long exposure photos with no image blur. They plan to launch near the end of June dependent upon weather and CAA approval (warning pilots of where our balloon will be). This project ties in with SUSF’s outreach activities at local schools, getting kids interested in space, science and engineering from an early age.


To make this exciting mission a reality, they need to raise £4500 to build the platform, buy a suitable camera and cover balloon launch costs. This is an extremely unique project, capturing images comparable to those taken by astronauts on the ISS while also being one of the first balloon launches at night in the UK. With additional funding above their goal they can include other GoPro cameras for more unique videos such as directly downwards showing the night time lights of England moving below the platform. They could also do additional launches aimed at capturing different photos, such as the Moon or Sun rising over the Earth’s horizon.

Launching Space Photography Platform
Launching Space Photography Platform

You can support them directly by donating, and every pound you donate will be matched by the University, effectively doubling your donation! That means your £10 donations will automatically become £20, which is then reflected in the total as the team continues to fundraise for the project. Even without donating, you can help them reach their goal by sharing this project with anyone you think would like to support, whether that be by Facebook, Twitter, or even in chats with colleagues and friends. Every bit of help is very much appreciated by everyone within the society!

Cost breakdown

  • Platform costs (materials and payload electronics): £600
  • Camera and lens: £3100
  • Launch costs (Helium, balloon, travel and tracking payload): £800

The camera (a Sony a7s II) and lens make up a major proportion of the cost of this project. However, this model has extremely good low light performance (excellent for capturing the Milky Way) as well as 5-axis optical image stabilisation (reducing blur in the final image) making it the perfect choice for this project and will provide the best images from any commercially available option. Alongside this, as a mirrorless camera, it has a much lower weight compared to other options, actually reducing our launch costs and making it easier to point.

Rewards

All the rewards listed on the side also include the lower tiers and will be awarded after the late June launch. The team is grateful for donations of any size as they all get them closer to their goal! If you have any queries, feel free to get in touch at admin@susf.co.uk

Follow our progress

Keep track of the progress on the build and launch by following the project’s twitter account. You can also see some photos of the previous launches on the  website and flickr account.

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