Space is, as Star Trek‘s Captain Kirk put it, the final frontier. Interestingly though, with high-altitude balloons, touching this frontier is relatively accessible. On the other hand, without some sort of tracking or video device on your balloon, you can only really theorize that it perhaps got pretty close to outer space. In this case, perhaps you’re really just littering in a very creative way.
If you simply want to put a balloon up yourself, but don’t know where to start electronics-wise you should check out this project. The “CatSat1,” pico-satellite has the electronics needed to launch and track a flight, including battery and control components, sensors, and a GPS unit. The design is open source, so you can modify it to fit your needs (or use the design to build one yourself), and is based on the CatSat program seen on Hackaday.com. You can see a view from one of these devices in the video below.
If are the kind of person who wants to put something into space and track your object, you’re not alone. You can find like-minded individuals on the amateur radio high altitude ballooning (arhab) website, or if you’re associated with a university, you could participate in the CanSat Competition, which uses rockets to launch a payload. This year takes place in Stephenville, Texas on June 9th through 11th.