NC Near Space Research started out as a group from TechShop RDU who entered the Hackerspaces in Space contest. We spent one month putting together a balloon to take pictures of the earth from near space. After launching the balloon, our tracking system promptly failed and it vanished. We quickly put together an attempt to salvage our day and assembled a complete backup system in 30 minutes! We launched it and after tracking it for several hours and then spending several more hours retrieving it from a tree, we opened up our camera to discover wonderful pictures! Since then, we have decided to continue launching balloons to near space to try out new and different things.
NC Near Space is a BarCampRDU Partner Organization! These folks are awesome and they do awesome things! Make sure you check them out https://sites.google.com/a/ncnearspace.org/home/
It is truly amazing to see these folks bring together all the technology and research to make these balloon launches a successful reality.