Anna Gragert
September 12, 2015 12:20 pm

All right, buckle up and get ready for an amazing tale that stars five friends, a lost GoPro, and a woman who works at AT&T. (If that doesn’t sound like a super-intriguing movie synop/This American Life story, then we don’t know what does.)

Our story begins at the Grand Canyon. It’s a jaw-dropping view here on Earth, but five Arizona-based friends wanted to see the canyon from a dramatically different angle. As PetaPixel reports,  in 2013, using a weather balloon, the group decided to send a Samsung Galaxy Note II phone (for GPS tracking and photos), Sony Camcorder (for video), and a GoPro (for more video) up into space. Why? So that they could capture the canyon from a bird’s-eye view, of course. After getting permission from the Federal Aviation Administration, their mission was a go.

So the team sent up the weather balloon, it made it to 98,000 feet… and for a while, that’s all the friends knew. Once the weather balloon escaped the cell tower’s range, the group lost contact.

“The problem was that the coverage map we were relying on (looking at you, AT&T) was not accurate, so the phone never got signal as it came back to Earth, and we never heard from it,” writes team member Bryan Chan on Reddit.

Flash forward to a few months ago, when an AT&T worker came to the rescue! “Two years later, in a twist of ironic fate, a woman who works at AT&T was on a hike one day and spotted our phone in the barren desert,” explains Chan. “She brings it to an AT&T store, and they identify my friend’s SIM card. We got the footage and data a few weeks later!”

It turns out that the camera box landed an impressive 50 miles away from the site of their launch. After reviewing the data, the friends realized that their equipment reached a height of 98,644 feet and was in flight for 1 hour and 38 minutes – which is CRAZY COOL.

But really, the best part is that they got all of the original images back, along with the video of the GoPro’s incredible journey:

Friendship + GoPro + space = dreams really do come true.

Related:

You know that ‘elevator to space’ idea you had? They’re working on it.

This food was made in space. NBD.

[Images via YouTube]

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