Out of This World! Paper Airplane Snaps Amazing Space Photos

Out of This World! Paper Airplane Snaps Amazing Space Photos
The boundary between Earth and space take center stage in this photo captured by cameras on a balloon-launched paper airplane built by space enthusiasts at The Register in the U.K. The plane was carried to an altitude of about 17 miles before descending back to Earth on Oct. 28, 2010. (Image credit: The Register [Full Story])

This story was updated at 2:50 p.m. ET.

An oversize paper airplane sent uptoward the edge of spaceby a British online tech publication has snapped stunning photos of thefinalfrontier and the Earth far below.

The paper aircraft's Vulture 1mission took place Oct. 28 aspart of the Paper Aircraft Released In Space (PARIS) project conductedby threespace enthusiasts with The Register, an online technology publicationin theU.K. 

Photos from a camera attached to theplane show the curve ofthe Earth and the black of space beyond.  [PaperAirplane's Photo of Space]

"The project came about as a responseto the Japaneseproposal to throw paper planes from the International Space Station,"Registerwriter Lester Haines told SPACE.com in an e-mail. "We thought we coulddobetter, so we did."

Haines and fellow space fans SteveDaniels and John Oatesbuilt the space-photographing plane out of paperstraws and stiff paper,which served as internal ribs. It has a 3-foot (1-meter) wingspan and is covered with a paper skin painted orange andsilver. Theyset the plane loose from a staging ground in Spain.

The plane was carried skyward by ahelium balloon and reacheda maximum altitude of about 89,591 feet (27,307 meters), which isnearly 17miles (27.3 km), before descending to Earth and landing in a thickwooded area,according to Register mission updates.

The widely recognized edgeof space is about 62 miles (100 km).

The Register's Vulture 1 mission isthe latest effort to buildhomemade high-altitudeballoon craft to snap photosof Earth and space.

Haines said the project cost about?8,000 (almost USD $13,000)to build the oversize paper plane, obtain the weather balloon andlaunch themission.  The Register chronicled the Vulture 1 mission fromstart to finishover the last year.

"It was quite an emotional moment tosee the plane gooff into the blue yonder, but recovering the Vulture 1 intact was aonce-in-a-lifetime event," Haines said. "Things got even better whenwe saw the photos, and especially the video footage of the planerelease. Spectacular stuff."

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.