Project NOVA

Sending a weather balloon to the edge of space to capture some amazing pictures and video of the Earth, as well as collect scientific data
Jonathan Stowe
Toronto, Ontario
1 Team Member

What is Project NOVA?

Project NOVA is a mission put together by a friend and I with the goal being to photograph the Earth by sending a weather balloon to the edge of the atmosphere  (over 100,000 feet!) The balloon will then pop and the box containing our cameras will then fall back to earth, and using a GPS receiver, we will then find the cameras, with our stunning photos.

Why are we doing this?

We want to get pictures of how the earth is meant to be shown, not with borders and labels painted all over it, like every globe you've ever seen. We want to show the Earth in it's true form, clouds, water, and land. We want to inspire others to get excited about the world in which we live in. Any company that has ever been involved with a space mission, will always put that mission at the start of all their reports, because space is what inspires dreams. Space is our last fronteer. What's incredible, even though space is only 60 miles away, we are still just beginning to start our exploration of the unknown. What's unfortunate however, is that world's governments continue to cut funding of our space programes, and thus we feel that we need to do this. Space inspires us, it's the act of discovery, causes us to dream about what else we haven't yet discovered. 

Mission Plan

Project NOVA will consist of 2 different balloon launches, Cirrus and Nova. The first launch will be Cirrus, which will only rise to around 5-600 feet, because it will be on a tether to the ground. We plan to take some amazing shots of downtown Toronto, because the balloon will be launched from a park in the city. We plan to use Cirrus not only to take pictures of the city, we also plan on brining a local science outreach program with us to the launch to help teach kids about space. 

After we launch Cirrus, we will take what we learn from that launch and put that into launching Nova. Nova will be launched far outside Toronto, and fly up to the edge of the atmosphere and take stunning photos of the curvature of the Earth. Nova will be a 1,200g weather balloon capable of flying past 110,000 feet. Nova will be filled with Helium, which will give the balloon a diameter of about 3 to 4 feet. We will then let the balloon go, letting it fly into the stratosphere, all the way up to the edge of our atmosphere. During the ascent Nova will go higher than the altitude which commercial planes fly, withstand 100+mph wind, as well as battling temperatures of -60F. At this point the ballon's diameter will have grown to about 25 feet! This is when the balloon will then pop, and start to fall back to Earth, after a moment of being weightless because of the close proximity to space. During the fall Nova's parachute wil deploy slowing down the descent down from 150 mph to only 12 mph. Once Nova has landed, we will begin to receive GPS ordinates from a GPS receiver located inside the payload.  

Both balloon's will share the same payload. This payload will contain 1 still camera, that will be taking timed shots during the trip, as well as 2 video cameras. One looking out at the horizon, and one facing up to watch the balloon grow from 3 feet wide to 30 feet, as well as watching it pop! The payload will also contain a GPS tracker, along with sensors  measuring altitude, pressure, and temperature. The payload will also be outfitted with several LEDs to help in locating it in the dark. 


A science outreach group will accompany us when we launch Cirrus, and we will explain the science behind the project, as well as sharing the data and photos we gather from both missions. Along with photos data such as pressure,and temperature will be gathered from Nova will be shared with museums and science organisations around the world.

The Team

Our team is comprised of two first year business students at Ryerson University in Toronto. We came up with this project because of our shared intrest in exploring and science. We are both very excited about this project, and can't wait to get started!


Although we aren't launching rockets, or going into orbit, building and launching a weather balloon is still no easy feat. The money donated will be used to purchase the following items to turn the mission from dream to reality. The following is a list of the materials that rely on your donations! 

  • 2 Weather balloons
  • 2 Tanks of Helium
  • 2 video camera and 1 Cannon Powershot digital camera
  • 1 Parachute 
  • Tether cord
  • Sensors
  • 1 Radio reflector
  • Gas for the recovery car

Follow The Journey!!

On Twitter: @projectNOVA2012

raised by 7 people in 2 months
39% funded
0 time left
$800 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on March 22, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $10USD

    Backers who pledge $10 will have their name being sent to space and released into the atmosphere when the ballon pops!!

    1 claimed
  • $20USD

    Backers who pledge at least $20 will receive a vinyl Project NOVA sticker, so you can show your support anywhere! Plus having your name in the payload!

    1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2013
  • $30USD

    Backers who pledge at least $30 will receive all the rewards above plus a 4x6 copy of our best shot! So you will be able to show off what you helped accomplish!!

    0 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2013
  • $40USD

    Recieve the ultimite package when you contribute $40 or more! Backers will receive not only all of the rewards listed above, but also DVD copy video recorded of the trip, with your name on the opening credits!

    1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2013
  • $100USD

    Recieve the ultimite package when you contribute $100 or more! If you contribute $100 or more you will not only receive all rewards listed but you will also receive a 8x10 photo print, that you will be able to frame and tell people about the accomplishment you contributed to!!

    1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: April 2013
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