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Wednesday, 14 August, 2002, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
British explorers test balloon flight
Triton research vessel (Image: QinetiQ)
The balloon will launch from a ship off the Cornish coast
Two UK explorers have successfully tested a smaller version of a balloon they will use to try to break an altitude record this summer.

Andy Elson and Colin Prescot want to fly to 40,000 m (132,000 ft) in the biggest helium balloon ever made.


This should help everyone refresh themselves on their duties and tasks while we wait for the right weather conditions to launch

Andy Elson, balloon pilot
They are waiting for the right weather to launch the giant balloon off St Ives in southwest England.

In the meantime, the QinetiQ team carried out tests on Wednesday on the research vessel Triton.

They inflated a balloon 44 times smaller than the real one on the ship 48 kms (30 miles) off Portland, Dorset.

Then they deflated it, put it in the water and rehearsed recovering the polythene envelope.

'Dress rehearsal'

The real balloon will launch from the same ship off Cornwall, and should land out in the Atlantic.

The team is waiting for the right weather window in August or September to make their attempt on the manned balloon altitude record.

Speaking before the tests, Andy Elson told BBC News Online. "We're gathering the launch crew for QinetiQ 1 on Triton to run through a 'dress rehearsal' for the final launch and recovery procedures.

The flight desk undergoes a splash test
The flight desk undergoes a splash test
"This should help everyone refresh themselves on their duties and tasks while we wait for the right weather conditions to launch.

"The BBC will also be onboard, making sure that equipment they'll be using to beam pictures back to land is in correct working order.

"I'm really looking forward to getting a taster of what it'll be like when we launch the QinetiQ 1 balloon for real."

Images courtesy of QinetiQ.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Phillipa Thomas
"The actual balloon will be as high as seven Nelson's columns"

Click here to go to Southampton


See also:

19 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
09 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
03 May 02 | Science/Nature
08 Nov 01 | England
20 Mar 99 | Great balloon challenge
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