Several amateur radio operators came together and started launching high altitude balloons with experimental amateur radio payloads. They nicknamed these balloon experiments with amateur radio as BEAR. A balloon carrying the payload along with an APRS tracker is released and reaches a height of 117,000 feet. At that altitude, the earth’s horizon is 460 miles compared to 2-3 miles at ground level.
On February 11, 2012, they launched BEAR-9 carrying a 4×5 camera as the payload. This large format camera resulted in spectacular pictures from the edge of Earth’s atmosphere. Check out the BEAR web site for more information.