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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 January, 2004, 16:00 GMT
New balloon record attempt
Deflated balloon
The balloon had never been fully inflated before
Balloon pilots Andy Elson and Colin Prescot are to make another attempt to break the world altitude record for a manned balloon in summer 2005.

Their attempt in Cornwall last September was aborted when an eight-metre tear appeared in the helium balloon envelope during launch.

The pilots will spend the next year making improvements to equipment in the balloon QinetiQ 1.

They also plan to investigate different launch methods and launch sites to increase their chances of success.

Pilot and project director, Andy Elson, said last year's problems were a "massive disappointment" but he and Prescot did not want to rush the next attempt.

"As an engineer, I'm never really happy until we've broken something - if we don't test something to the point that it breaks then we haven't tested it enough.

"But as a pilot out there on the day all revved-up and ready, it was hugely disappointing.

"I've spent the last few months with my engineering team investigating what went wrong and asking how we can do things differently next time.

"We've decided there is not realistically enough time to be ready for a launch this year."

Elson's team of engineers at QinetiQ 1 HQ in Glastonbury, Somerset, have been studying ways to improve the quality and durability of the balloon envelope.

Colin Prescot, from Stockbridge in Hampshire, said: "There are always ways we can improve and there's no need for us to rush into our next attempt.

"With our experience gained last September we're aiming for a win next time."




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