Tuscany, in central Italy, has a rich terrain with plains, mountains, hills, sea and lakes in view. How does it look like from above? We may find out very soon, and the area might look like this.

Simulated view from the STSp-1 balloon flight

I am a member of StratoSpera, an Italian project for sending amateur balloons to a height of about 30 km in the stratosphere to take pictures and measurements. The first launch attempt is scheduled for September 4, 2010 around 8:00 UTC from the Chianti area between Firenze, Siena and Arezzo.

For updates follow @StratoSpera on Twitter. Besides the project blog we also have a page on Facebook.

We came up with almost totally random naming schemes for the launch site and mission number: KSC (Kianti Stratosphere Center), and STSp-1 for the first mission. The above image comes from an STSp-1 simulation of the view facing Tyrrhenian Sea from a 30 km height.

We are members of the online space enthusiast community ForumAstronautico.it with the help of Develer, a hardware-software design company. Launching balloons to the stratosphere is a cheap and relatively simple way of experiencing views and an environment with some of the characteristics of outer space. We were inspired by the Canadian SABLE-3 balloon experiment.

Most of the information available at our sites is in Italian, but images will hopefully speak for themselves. Indeed, the project name is an Italian pun based on the words stratosfera (stratosphere) and spera (you hope).