We sent a badge into the stratosphere. Here's how we did it.
On December 1st 2012, Geek Squad entered the space race by successfully sending a Geek Squad Badge to near-space. After a one-month design and build period, a team of Agents launched Icarus I, which achieved an altitude of nearly 90,000 feet and traveled 165 miles. The flight lasted approximately two hours and forty minutes, after which the capsule returned safely to Earth and was recovered by the ground crew.
The Icarus I capsule employed a modified Styrofoam bait cooler for the primary payload container. A custom-constructed aluminum mounting arm was used to secure the payload (a Geek Squad Badge) to the exterior of the capsule and mount internal capsule components. Inside the capsule were two GoPro Hero cameras which were secured to the aluminum mount, one facing directly down toward the Earth and the second facing outward toward the Badge. Additionally, Icarus I contained a SPOT satellite GPS tracking unit, two custom-built electronics charging assemblies, a battery pack, hand warming packs, and miscellaneous air and newspaper packing materials to protect the components. The capsule lid was secured using zip ties. A 1200g Kaymont weather balloon was attached 5 feet above a 3 foot parachute from which the payload was suspended by an additional 15 feet of rope. The balloon was inflated using 94.85 cubic feet of industrial grade Helium. With a total payload weight of 1294 grams, the vehicle achieved an ascent rate of approximately 900 ft/minute.
Sending an unmanned aerial balloon with a treasured payload to near-space involves intense planning, exact engineering and a little luck. Very specific federal regulations must be followed, precisely designed components need to be constructed, and care must be taken to ensure safety of those on the ground. The descriptions, materials and schematics provided here are for educational purposes only. DO NOT attempt a near-space mission without consulting professionals.
Neither Geek Squad nor the members of the Icarus team assume any liability for the accuracy of the content on this page or the outcome of any project attempting to replicate our work.