What is it?
The Cygnus Project is a project created by two Texas Tech University students, Erich Leeth and Terry Presley. Our goal was simple. Send a camera to space that was capable of doing the landscape justice. It is by no means a new thing to attach a small point and shoot or small camcorder to a weather balloon, but we had yet to see someone take the next step, the DSLR. We strapped a Nikon D300s to a weather balloon to try to capture the awe inspiring scenery at 100,000 feet. We're looking to take it to the next level again. A Full Frame DSLR accompanied by several HD video cameras and real time payload tracking.
In deciding what we wanted to see come out of this project, we just said, "What would we like to see if we were watching someone else do this?" We thought a Full Frame camera might be the only hope for doing justice to what space has to offer. We also thought it would be cool to see some video to accompany the images. But not just the same angle that the Nikon would see. That's boring. We're all about trying to see something new and interesting. With several (3+) small HD camcorders we aim to place them in ways that will drop some jaws.
For our first launch, we used an old cell phone with a GPS app to retrieve the camera after it came down. While this worked, it only lets you know where it is after it's landed. We thought that it would be really cool if we could "watch" the cameras make their climb skyward. With a little research, we found a technology that would let us do this. Called APRS, it sends out coordinates to the internet along the whole journey. This means that you, the contributors, will be able to log on the day of the launch and watch the cameras progress in real time! And we think that's pretty cool.
Why are we doing it?
Basically what it really boils down to is that we love photography, technology, and we love trying new things. It's the perfect storm.
How are we going to bring this project to you?
After our first launch got so much attention, it became quickly apparent that we needed to do a lot more in the way of documentation. We're teaming up with one of our good buddies from school who's studying video production and who has started a production company called Workhorse Pictures. Workhorse Pictures will be documenting this project for us. From the beginning preparations, to the launch, and finally the recovery. We hope this short documentary will make the people that aren't able to come out with us really feel like they were there.
- (31 days)