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The True Story of Penn & Teller in Space

LA timelapse filmmaker Colin Rich explains the why the dubious duo seemed to be plummeting from the upper atmosphere.
March 7, 2015, 8:00pm

Colin Rich, who stunned us with his LA timelapse in 2013, recently posted an amazing 30-second video called Penn & Teller in Space. Its contents? Two dummies shaped like the dubious duo plummeting from the upper atmosphere following the explosion of what looks like a large lightbulb.

Of course, we had a couple of questions. Rich was happy to explain the story behind the unlikely sight:

"Back a couple of years ago I launched a project called Pacific Star II. It was an idea that I had in my head for awhile but basically it was to try and take pictures of near space. I put the project together by hacking a bunch of cameras and GPS, and sent the camera up using a weather balloon. I tracked it down and then put together the video.

The video went viral, and a lot of people have been doing similar projects like it. I did a couple of launches afterwards for an organization called Poptech in 2010, and then finally did Pacific Star 3."

"Penn & Teller had a show on the Discovery Channel much like their other show _Bullshit! _on Showtime. I was hired to create a space balloon to send them to space as part of the series, to either prove or disprove whether or not it was possible.

The funniest thing about that whole adventure was that it took like three launches to make it work. Discovery Channel insisted that I launch it in the desert, really close to Edwards Air Force Base. I am pretty sure the Air Force ended up jamming the signal on the device because they probably didnt know what it was (or could do). Somewhere out in the desert, there are six Penn & Teller dolls bleaching out and rusting away.

"The last attempt was a success. I launched it towards the coast on a day with minimal weather. The balloon went to about 30 miles and then parachuted down. A family randomly picked up the device (Penn & Teller, three GoPros, and GPS equipment) and drove around for like 30 minutes in a pickup truck, until I tracked them to their home and recovered the device." Colin Rich concludes, "The launches were always a lot of fun and took me down roads I would otherwise never venture down." Visit Colin Rich at Deer Dog Productions, and check out our past coverage of his work here.


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