At the eve of the maiden STSp-1 flight of the Italian StratoSpera amateur stratospheric ballon project, we wondered how central Italy would look like from above. The mission was a success, and we can now show what it actually looks like.

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We launched the balloon from the area of Chianti, in eastern Tuscany, at about 09:20 UTC on September 4, 2010. After reaching a maximum altitude of 27.6 km, the payload safely descended attached to a parcahute, landing a few minutes before 11:00 UTC about 2 km East of Foiano della Chiana near Arezzo. It was successfully recovered.

The payload included a crew of 2 “mementonauts”: a  Space Tweep Society patch featuring Meco the birdonaut, and Joe, a small toy astronaut eagerly provided by a team member’s kid son. Wondering why the toy is named Joe? Joe Kittinger did Project Excelsior‘s final stratospheric parachute jump 50 years and a few days ago, on August 16, 1960.

As far as we know, this is currently the highest flight of Meco, who is also training for an upcoming, real trip to space and the International Space Station.

The STSp-1 onboard camera took lots of beautiful photos and videos, which we are still reviewing. We will post more to the project blog, @StratoSpera and the StratoSpera page on Facebook.

What’s next? The next mission, STSp-2, will likely fly also a Geiger counter, already built and tested, and a biological experiment.