WATCH: Students launch successful balloon experiment - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

WATCH: Students launch successful balloon experiment

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ATHENS, AL (WAFF) -

Four Athens High School engineering students launched a weather balloon that made it safely back to the ground after falling nearly 20 miles.

Their instructor challenged the students to design a payload that would take video of the curvature of the Earth and the darkness of space.

According to a video posted on YouTube, Robert Autrey, Reggie Battles, Conlon Farmer, and Benton Key accepted the challenge and caught this incredible footage.

The weather balloon was launched on April 26 from Athens High School.

The video begins with the students launching the balloon from the school's football field. You can see the campus and then the city as the balloon rises. During the flight, the camera capture views of Athens, Decatur, Madison, Huntsville, and Scottsboro.

The ascent took an hour and a half and the payload climbed to nearly 20 miles. During the 8:23 long video, you can see the Tennessee River, including Wheeler Lake and Lake Guntersville.

About five minutes into the video, the camera captures "The Shot," almost 20 miles above the surface of the Earth. Then the balloon bursts after expanding from six feet in diameter to 23 feet.

The payload containing three camera views and a GPS transmitter fell back to Earth and the parachute deployed. The descent took 30 minutes.

As the balloon falls back to earth, you can see rural Jackson County before the payload lands safely in Section, 60 miles from the launch site.

The students said they used "Hot Hands" to keep the electronics warm. Students used lessons from a previous attempt to perfect their project.

If you are on a mobile device, click here to watch the video: http://bit.ly/1jIKJy4

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