In the summer of 2012, a team of technicians and photographers set out for a field near the town of Pereslavl-Zalesskiy, 150 km (about 93 miles) northeast of Moscow in Russia to take some pictures. These would not be just any pictures. The plan was to send a helium balloon carrying remote-controlled cameras to near space to take panoramic images of Earth from the stratosphere. The stratosphere is the middle layer of the atmosphere—it lies between the lowest layer, the troposphere, and the third layer, the mesosphere, from about 10–50 km (6.2–31 miles) above Earth’s surface. The upper reaches of the stratosphere are referred to by scientists as “near space.” That’s where the balloon would head. The team was led by Oleg Gaponyuk, along with adventurer and photographer Denis Efremov, who brought to the project extensive experience with unmanned aerial vehicles and—perhaps less interestingly, but just as importantly—all the necessary permits from regulatory authorities to carry out the mission.