GoPro camera launched, lost in 2013 returns to reveal Grand Canyon from space

It took five friends a couple months of planning to record the perfect GoPro shot. It took two years to get the footage back.

Members of the group recounted the amazing journey that took a GoPro camera from the terrain of Tuba City, Ariz., to the edge of space and back in posts on YouTube and Reddit. The June 2013 expedition was designed to capture breathtaking aerial views of the Grand Canyon and its surrounding area via a GoPro, camcorder and Galaxy Note II launched on a weather balloon.

After reaching a maximum altitude of about 18 miles, during a flight time of slightly more than 90 minutes, the payload fell to the desert floor – where it remained for about two years. The team was using the GPS on the smartphone to track the package, but they encountered a problem during the descent.

“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,” the user trexarmsss wrote in a Reddit post.

The phone landed about 50 miles from the original launch point, nestled in an anonymous patch of sand.

“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,” trexarmsss wrote. “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!”

A video posted on YouTube, shows the ascent and descent. On the way up, the camera gradually changes from a ground view, to a bird’s view, to a plane’s and then finally to an astronaut’s perspective – presenting a beautiful glimpse of a huge stretch of Earth from the blackness of space itself. It takes just a half hour for the payload to tumble from the heavens, through wind currents and back to Earth.