Insta360 might have just released the new Insta360 GO 3 (buy here), but that’s not the only camera making a big appearance this week. Students at the Karman Space Programme (KSP) have sent an Insta360 X3 (buy here) up unto the stratosphere 20 miles above the planet’s surface.
The Karman Space Programme is a student-led team with the goal of becoming the first such team to reach space using a reusable rocket. It’s a very lofty goal and one that’s going to take a lot of work. And in their recent high-altitude balloon test, titled Project Eclipse, they attached the Insta360 X3 to their payload and it captured some incredible views.
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Based in the UK, the Karman Space Programme is a student-led programme. It involves seventy students from ten different departments at Imperial College, London. The programme’s goal is to make space travel accessible and sustainable. In an interview with Insta360, the team were asked about the project and its purpose.
The Karman Space Programme (KSP) is a student team with the primary objective of researching and developing space technologies to improve life on Earth. Currently, KSP is working on the development of reusable rockets, intending to become the first student-led team to launch a reusable rocket past the Karman Line. It was founded by five engineering students at Imperial College London and supervised by five leading academics to create a thriving engineering and entrepreneurial ecosystem with the common goal of sustainable and accessible space travel.
They hope to become the first student-led team to reach space using reusable rockets and have a number of projects in the timeline to help them achieve their goal. Last year they launched their first rocket, Nebula. Now, the Eclipse balloon to test avionics and ground station live streaming infrastructure. Next they plan to launch another test rocket, X-Calibur, followed by a dual-stage rocket named Orion.
Naturally, getting one’s name in the history books, especially when it comes to something like space travel, is going to be a big motivator all on its own. But that’s not their only motivation. They want sustainable and accessible space travel with reusable rockets. One-time-use rockets are a huge expense when it comes to space travel, not to mention a big drain on materials and resources. Being able to reuse as much of the rocket as possible over and over again is easier on the wallet and better for the environment.
Strapping an Insta360 X3 to their latest balloon test allowed the team to capture some amazing imagery from above the earth’s surface. The team says the balloon rose to an altitude of 86,000ft (~16.3 miles) and was recovered shortly after touching back down on Earth. As well as providing some of the most stunning views, the Insta360 camera also provided valuable information. The team were able to see the moment the balloon burst with a full 360-degree field of view, letting them look around the entire scene in every direction.
The Eclipse balloon flight far exceeded the operating temperature extremes advertised by Insta360. Insta360 advertises the X3 as having an operating temperature range of -20ºC to 40ºC. The temperature at 86,000ft, however, is a very chilly -48.79ºC. Of course, the camera is generating some heat to help offset that, but that’s a very impressive feat.
The KSP team plans to attach Insta360 cameras to future rocket launches “if the aerodynamics permits”. Using a 360-degree camera for such applications makes life a lot easier where possible because you don’t have to worry about what direction the camera’s facing. You mount it up and it sees in every direction, letting you reframe in post.
Insta360 supports the Karman Space Programme with cameras and other equipment through its Think Bold Fund. The fund supports creators and projects such as this with cameras, production equipment, support and cash to help get them off the ground. In this case, quite literally.