It's amazing what a little British ingenuity and a shoe-string budget can achieve. These glorious photos of space were taken by amateur enthusiast Robert Harrison, using a cheap Canon digital camera, some duct tape and a helium balloon. In total, the rudimentary space camera cost just GBP 500 ($747) on a project which a NASA spokesman admitted would have cost them millions of dollars.

Speaking to The Times, Mr Harrison explained: "A guy phoned up who worked for NASA who was interested in how we took the pictures. He wanted to know how the hell we did it." The space experts thought Mr Harrison must have used a homemade rocket to take such spectacular shots from over 20 miles above the Earth's surface.

The device uses materials readily available online, including loft insulation to wrap both the camera and a GPS tracking device to protect the digital equipment from freezing temperatures of -60C (-75F). The helium balloon which lifted the camera high above the Earth's atmosphere expands to a diameter of up to 20 metres, before popping and letting the camera fall back to Earth via an attached parachute. ... 25751.html