2018 HAB expedition : Grand Canyon


This year I will be taking an expedition to HAB over the Grand Canyon. I am looking to run the expedition between 23rd and 30th July. It will be hot over there but also should ensure the right kind of winds to drift the balloon west over the canyon. We have space for 4 other people to join us on the flight and carry out their own mission. If you would like to come on the 2018 Nearspacephotography.co.uk expedition then get in touch with Chris at chris@nearspacephotography.co.uk or call him on 07783903096


Near Space Photography sends ashes to space


With some effort and planning, it is often possible to fulfill the wishes of relatives who have passed, and who wish a dramatic or spectacular final journey. For individuals who want to reach beyond this world and return to the heavens, Near Space Photography now offers the chance to have all the cremated remains scattered in near space, 30km above the Earth. Chris Hillcox from Near Space photography said, ” We offer a unique service in returning people towards the stars. Where some companies can only take a small sample of cremated remains towards space, we can launch an entire urn of ashes towards space and scatter them high above the Earth. Our launch operation, which operates in most places across the country, can capture the stratospheric journey with video cameras and recover them using gps technology. Launching capsules laden with ashes is a skilled and regulated event, but with over 75 flights under our belts, we offer a very reliable flight service for loved ones.”


This weekend, Near Space Photography helped a family scatter the cremated remains of their loved one. At the start of this summer, Near Space Photography was contacted by a lady who wanted to scatter the ashes of her brother in space. Her brother had always had great interest in space and the family thought it would be a fitting final trip for the man. This weekend we finally helped the family fulfil their ‘out of this world’ dream. The flight was launched with CAA approval from Tamworth in Staffordshire and the balloon drifted in line with the restrictions placed around the flight. The capsule included a Go Pro camera to capture the event and the footage was easily recovered following the flight.

Ice cream in space : Attempt 2


Tomorrow we will be trying to make ice cream in Space with Purbeck Ice cream. We had a go in April but the weather was against us and our balloon popped before launch. We are full of hope and high spirits that tomorrow will go as smooth as Purbeck ice cream itself :D.

The flight can be followed via the spot tracker http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0YDjTyDgrYT0ixUuI6J20brvOPxb95XLb

or Scooby radio tracker on



SPOT tracker price hike: Crass April Fool stunt or unwanted price rise

This morning, Saturday 1st April 2017, I got this email from SPOT LLC about my SPOT  tracers:


SPOT trackers are frequently used by high altitude balloonists as a primary or back up tracker.

This email is either a crass April Fools joke, given the already high cost of the trackers, or an unwanted price hike. If it is an April fool then it is not as funny as Spaghetti growing on trees. If it is the latest in a series of price increases then it is definitely unwelcome. I will try and get clarification on Monday from the company itself. We will also try and get more information on what ‘service improvements’ are on offer for the extra $50 a year.

Weather balloon price freeze

We have just taken a new shipment of PAWAN weather balloons. We are freezing the price of 100gm balloons. They are still £26 for a pack of 5 or £52 for a box of 10. We are increasing the price of 1200gm PAWAN balloons with much regret. They are now £62 per balloon (inc. P&P). They still represent the lowest cost 1200gm balloon in the market. The price of the 1200gm balloon shipping to the EU is £74.


Seaton Primary School send Alvin to space

On Wednesday 1st February, we helped Seaton Primary school send a polystyrene rocket carrying their school mascot to space. The flight was launched from Seaton Primary School and landed 60 miles away at the village of Tisbury.

The payload carried a Go Pro Hero Session and a 360fly camera. This footage can be viewed on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/chris.hillcox.5

The flight was terminated by the Doongara cutdown device which was triggered when the flight reached an air pressure of 50mb.


Boscombe Down Balloon Challenge competition winners announced

The Boscombe Down Balloon challenge competiti0n, sponsored by RAeS, Cameron Balloons, QinetiQ, and us has finished and the prizes have been announced. Rod, from RAeS issued the following statement:

You may be interested to know that we have a result from the Boscombe Down Balloon Challenge:  Epsom College win 3 x £1000 prizes for greatest altitude, greatest distance, and greatest endurance.  Ryde School with Upper Chine (Isle of Wight) win the Chris Hillcox HAB Supplies prize for a commendable flight achievement that did not qualify for any of the 3 main prizes.
I am very pleased to report that this result is not only the technically correct outcome, but also that it entirely reflects natural justice.  Epsom college put in a Herculean effort, launching 6 flights in all (with a seventh in reserve for the evening of 31 Dec).  The students who built the balloon payloads were genuinely inspired and proactively led by two very enthusiastic teachers who engaged with our competition in a most positive way.  From the outset, their appetite for the Balloon Challenge and their determination to win it, was palpable.  Yet, despite being fiercely competitive, this team was totally committed to playing strictly by the rules in everything they did.  More than this, they respected a UK HAS advisory launch embargo when weather conditions would have carried their balloons into airport traffic zones (so as not to bring the Balloon Challenge into disrepute); and have offered to help other schools with HAB-based STEM projects in the future.
Ryde School with Upper Chine was also an enthusiastic competitor, but here the team was very much student-led.  The Senior Science Technician was our staff point of contact.  The School was undoubtedly supportive of their Balloon Challenge entry, but did not provide the level of guidance and inspiration that we saw at Epsom.  The Ryde team did, however, plan their flights with full cognizance of NOTAM requirements; and with commendable attention to the engineering detail of optimal gassing – the trick being to put not too much gas into a balloon.  In the event, the Ryde balloon flew furthest and for the longest duration (by a large margin), but since the balloon itself was bigger than the maximum size permitted in the Challenge, this result did not count.  It was, nevertheless, a significant achievement in its own right.
These results will be fully recognised at Prize Day on 10 Feb.

University of Leicester students film breathtaking curvature of Earth using high altitude weather balloon

University of Leicester students film breathtaking curvature of Earth using high altitude weather balloon

source: http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=171343&CultureCode=en

Physics students from the University of Leicester have captured breathtaking images of the Earth’s stratosphere using a high altitude weather balloon.

The unmanned balloon and sensor payload reached an altitude of 23.6km, putting it at 1.7 times the altitude ceiling of a 747 airliner.

In conditions close to a vacuum with ambient temperatures around -56oC the students’ payload filmed the cloud tops and the curvature of the Earth.

The payload then descended quickly to Earth reaching a maximum speed of over 100mph.

The launch took place in December near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, and the payload was recovered in Warwickshire.

As well as producing photographs and video, this flight tested electronic control systems for future pollution monitoring flights and advanced navigational systems.

It also allowed the students, assisted by amateur radio enthusiasts, to test tracking techniques which will be used again on future flights.

Student Robert Peck, from the University of Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: “We’ve proven the reliability of the payload electronics and tracking methods, the payload returned in perfect condition, that’s a lot to say for something that’s been to 23.6km and plunged back to earth at over 44.7m/s. The tracking also worked perfectly, we are indebted to the amateur radio community for helping us to set up the tracking equipment.”

We supplied the radio tracker and spot tracker for the flight. It also flew our Doongara cutdown board.

The flight was conducted by student members of the University of Leicester’s Astronomy and Rocketry society, with Ryan Bradley-Evans as team leader of the project, Oli Thomas operating the tracking equipment, Robert Peck responsible for flight control electronics and Aleisha Hogan responsible for public relations. Several other team members also assisted with the project.

The team is planning future launches aiming to test the full sensor and advanced navigation systems which time constraints prevented them from launching on the first flight. With the control electronics proven they consider their chances of success to be high.

We supplied the radio tracker and spot tracker for the flight. It also flew our Doongara cutdown board.

Motorist throws HAB payload in the hedge


We like this video done for Jon Glaser’s True TV programme, Jon Glaser loves gear. At the end of the flight the payload unfortunately lands in a road. A motorist is captured throwing the payload in a hedge. We are not sure if this was done as an act of kindness or distain.