Scout weather balloon fired into outer space

UP, UP AND AWAY -- a shot from the weather balloon as Simon the frog looks down on earth from the edge of space
UP, UP AND AWAY -- a shot from the weather balloon as Simon the frog looks down on earth from the edge of space

THE sky was the limit for the 5th Hucknall Scout Group with an amazing project last weekend.

The members launched a weather balloon, with a camera attached, to the edge of space.

It reached an astonishing altitude of 116,483 feet — the 27th highest ever achieved in the UK.

Bearing the name Simon — the frog which is the group’s mascot — the balloon was launched from Hayes Farm, Hucknall, courtesy of owners Vicky and Philip Moss, and it landed in a field just north of Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.

Scout leader Andrew Anderson said: “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to enthusiast David Akerman, who supplied the balloon, helium and trackers to find it after it landed.

“The idea came about last summer when I saw a video on YouTube where someone had sent a toy robot to the edge of space.

“When the scouts started back after the summer break, I asked them if they wanted to do something similar. They were very, very excited about doing the same but replacing the toy robot with something scouting-related.

“We raised more than £250 and bought a GoPro HD camera. But we could not have done it without the help we received from Mr Akerman.”

Footage from the project will be used to make a short film about scouting and also a music video. The film will be entered into the ‘Bang’ Nottingham Film Festival in November.

The scouts will hopefully get to watch their finished film on a cinema screen in Nottingham.

People were able to follow the balloon on a live map at http://spacenear.us/tracker/?

Andrew said: “The project went a lot better than I thought it would. The balloon went higher than expected and we obtained better footage than we had anticipated. The scouts are over the moon about it all.

“This is not the sort of thing you do every day but it was something special for the youngsters to get involved with.

“I think it will be a one-off and I doubt very much whether we will try to get to the moon next time!”

At the end of the project, Mr Akerman was presented with a bottle of wine and a card signed by everyone involved.

He said: “It was great to see the boys’ smiling faces. Maybe one or two of them will be inspired to take up a career in science or engineering.”