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Space Photography Platform

A project by: Spaceflight Society


WE RAISED £4,620

from 44 donors

This project received pledges on Fri 03 Jun 2016

The University of Southampton's Fund for the Greatest Need provides matched funding opportunities for academic priorities focused on advancing research, enterprise and innovation.

Help us send a camera to the edge of space to take incredible photos of the Earth and Milky Way!

We are a team of students from University of Southampton Spaceflight Society (SUSF), working on a project to take photos of space from high altitudes. We’ll send a camera up on a weather balloon to around 100,000 feet (35km) where we can get pictures of the Milky Way galaxy, far better than can be achieved from the ground. We’ve designed and built a platform which uses spinning disks to stabilise the camera, allowing us to take long exposure photos with no image blur. We plan to launch near the end of June dependent upon weather and CAA approval (warning pilots of where our balloon will be). This project ties in with SUSF’s outreach activities at local schools, getting kids interested in space, science and engineering from an early age.

Society photo from our recent jamboree.

We need your help

To make this exciting mission a reality, we need to raise £4500 to build the platform, buy a suitable camera and cover balloon launch costs. This is an extremely unique project, capturing images comparable to those taken by astronauts on the ISS while also being one of the first balloon launches at night in the UK. With additional funding above our goal we can include other GoPro cameras for more unique videos such as directly downwards showing the night time lights of England moving below the platform. We could also do additional launches aimed at capturing different photos, such as the Moon or Sun rising over the Earth's horizon.

You can support us directly by donating, and every pound you donate will be matched by the University, effectively doubling your donation! That means your £10 donations will automatically become £20, which is then reflected in the total as we continue to fundraise for the project. Even without donating, you can help us reach our goal by sharing this project with anyone you think would like to support us, whether that be by Facebook, Twitter, or even in chats with colleagues and friends. Every bit of help is very much appreciated by everyone within the society!

"Waving at Europe" taken by Tim Peake on board the ISS, giving an idea of the kind of images we will be able to capture, but from a lower altitude. As our balloon will be moving very slowly compared to the ISS, we will be able to take longer exposures, capturing even more stars in our photos.

Cost Breakdown

  • Platform costs (materials and payload electronics): £600
  • Camera and lens: £3100
  • Launch costs (Helium, balloon, travel and tracking payload): £800 

The camera (a Sony a7s II) and lens make up a major proportion of the cost of this project. However, this model has extremely good low light performance (excellent for capturing the Milky Way) as well as 5-axis optical image stabilisation (reducing blur in the final image) making it the perfect choice for this project and will provide the best images from any commercially available option. Alongside this, as a mirrorless camera, it has a much lower weight compared to other options, actually reducing our launch costs and making it easier to point.

The nearly complete test rig with a camera of similar size for scale


All the rewards listed on the side also include the lower tiers and will be awarded after the late June launch. We are grateful for donations of any size as they all get us closer to our goal! If you have any queries, feel free to contact us at admin@susf.co.uk

Follow our progress

We will be updating this page (follow to receive messages) as well as our twitter account with progress on the build and launch. You can also see some photos of our previous launches on our website and flickr account.

9 months ago

Since July we’ve been working hard on getting prepared for launch. Due to a few issues with obtaining launch permission the launch date has been delayed. We currently have launch permission until the end of October and, depending on the weather, we hope to launch in this time.

The university year is just beginning, so we look forward to welcoming the new freshers into the society and the project.

We’ll keep you posted in the coming weeks. Once again, thank you all for your support!

Are you guys still working in this? It's been pretty quiet for a while now, but I saw this online today, which reminded me about your project https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vlyavVJ-ZXE&ebc=ANyPxKqz6rmW8GC1N0FbUfBX38fYLWHIZ27h8as9ry-s-li82JrUBIATwN4xpPYmgZaGR074VK21

11 months, 2 weeks ago

Check out what we've been doing as we get the platform ready to launch!

Click the image to view our video.

Apologies, the image link appears to be broken.

1 year ago

Earlier today we reached our crowdfunding target of £4500 so a massive thank you to everyone who's donated and shared the project. We'll be emailing sponsors once the deadline arrives and contact details are shared with us.
With regards to overfunding, any extra money we raise will be put first towards a second, much cheaper & lighter camera to face directly downwards and anything extra towards our outreach costs where we take the project into schools and local youth groups to promote STEM subjects. You can still donate until midnight tomorrow (Friday 3rd).
We'll be posting updates on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SUSFplatform/) and hopefully here too so you can see our progress towards the launch date in early July!

1 year, 1 month ago

We've just launched a Facebook page on which we'll be posting updates to the project alongside this page. www.facebook.com/SUSFplatform/

vc-fund matchfunded £2250

University of Southampton Crowdfunding

generated 283 clicks and caused 21 donations totalling £840.00

Katherine Carter

generated 285 clicks, donated £20.00, and caused 1 donation of £10.00

Deo Leung

generated 83 clicks, donated £400.00, and caused 1 donation of £10.00

Spaceflight Society

generated 479 clicks

Chris Lee

generated 116 clicks

Rich Kenchington

generated 106 clicks and donated

Robin Corps

generated 94 clicks and donated £20.00

Vijayanarasimha Pakka

generated 85 clicks and donated

Jon Colverson

generated 67 clicks and donated £50.00

Alan F

generated 59 clicks and donated £10.00


generated 56 clicks


generated 48 clicks and donated

ECS/FPSE Faculty

donated £500.00


donated £220.00

Union Southampton Students' Union

donated £123.00


donated £110.00

Matt Brown

donated £100.00

Stephen Edwards

donated £50.00


donated £13.00


donated £10.00


donated £10.00

Judy Gardner


Lisa Cox


Tim Boxall


Shaona Ghosh


6 anonymous donations totalling £204.00

Only project creators and their sponsors can post comments.

Great initiative, guys! All the best with your project, I am sure you will do wonders!

Good luck! Looking forward to seeing the pictures.


Looks like an interesting and novel project. Hope the images enthuse youngsters towards space science. Best wishes to the students and staff involved.

Keep on goin!

Great work, so proud of SUSF!

Good luck team. It looks like amazing fun. Please do try and get a gopro or two strapped on to the balloon for the journey!

I've seen incredible low-light photos and videos from the camera you're using, and that's an absolutely fantastic idea to send one of them into space. Best of luck with the fundraising and I'm looking forward to seeing the results of the project!

Wish good luck!

Good luck.

Good luck with your fundraising campaign and the project. Let us know if you need anything. Best - UKSEDS.

Fantastic project. Looking forward to all the success it brings you.

Best wishes, Elijah and friends.