If you’ve ever accidentally let go of a helium-filled balloon as a kid and watched it slowly float into the sky, chances are you’ve also wondered where it goes. Does it float past the point of no return and into space, thereby giving an extra-terrestrial child the joy of finding a free balloon?
Now that we’re older, we all know the air inside a balloon escapes long before it can exit the Earth’s atmosphere; dropping the empty rubber husk back to the ground just like your childhood hopes and dreams. Using the same principle, the guys at Garage 54 have taken a large weather balloon, strapped a scale model of a Lada Shorty to it along with some recording equipment, and documented its journey into the atmosphere:
The voice overdubbing is a little annoying, and it’s not the first we’ve seen of things being sent into the atmosphere via weather balloon, but that footage is dang impressive.
As you can see, the recording equipment is by far the most interesting part of the project. It includes shielded cameras and sensors which measure the balloon’s altitude, humidity, atmospheric pressure, and stream velocity. To make sure the team doesn’t lose track of the balloon, both a satellite tracker and GSM tracker are installed (they also help in retrieving the wreck once it falls back to Earth).
After calling local airports three days prior to make sure the skies are clear, the team sends their pet project into the air. Two cameras are trained on the car at all times: one directly above it and another to the side.
Using the sensors they installed, the team is able to predict the balloon’s landing somewhere 100 miles of the launch area. Since they made sure not to fill the balloon to full to prevent it from bursting early, both the sensors and the toy car will slowly descend as the balloon loses air.
It takes roughly an hour of travel time by car for the team to reach the spot where their sensors and car have landed, but the resulting footage is definitely worth it. The Shorty toy car reached an altitude of 82,000 feet (25,000 meters) above sea level (!!) and was able to capture near-space footage above the sky and clouds as well as its decent back to terra firma. To top the whole thing off, the car and the sensors are completely unscathed from the journey.
If you’re wondering why a Lada Shorty, watch their first video on a Lada two-door conversion here. Garage 54’s YouTube channel and Instagram has tons more videos where they pull off unconventional car shenanigans, so be sure to check them out!