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Ardingly teddy goes into space
1:06pm Sunday 2nd September 2012 in News
This is the furry face of the latest daring astronaut to venture into the freezing unknown above our planet.
The little Steiff teddy was sent on his mission by amateur balloon enthusiast Peter Browne, 65, from Ardingly, and his friends Merv Hugget and Alister Watt.
The trio have now smashed the world record for the highest amateur balloon with a camera.
Following in the footsteps of Joseph Kittinger who parachuted from 102,800 feet in the 60s, the little 25 gram keyring was lifted 140,180 feet into the stratosphere by a homemade latex balloon equipped with a camera and a GPS tracking system.
Peter started work in January, but soon realised that it was not going to be as straightforward as he thought.
Although possessing an ONC in electronics from the 60s, Peter had to teach himself about the variety of sophisticated equipment needed to complete his project.
“It takes a tremendous amount of science, ” Peter said. “I had to learn about complex electrical programs, microprocessors and about writing software.”
However the latex balloon and all its gadgetry were ready for launch on August 18.
Peter and his team anxiously tracked the teddy’s progress as it drifted higher and further north. But the real test was whether the balloon landed safely.
But not only was the flight a success, the balloon also burst over the tiny rural village of Good Easter in Essex, surprisingly where Peter’s wife was raised.
Peter said: “It was sheer coincidence. Of all the places it happened to land in that particular spot.”
Their original target was to reach 100,000 feet, but the bear reached an astounding 140,180 feet, nearly 27 miles above ground.
In so doing, Peter and his partners smashed the world record for the highest amateur balloon with a camera, and if that wasn’t enough, gained sixth place in the category of highest amateur balloon without a camera too.
Peter compared the excitement to the recent triumph of NASA’s Curiosity robot on Mars.
He said: “We felt just like those scientists staring anxiously at their screens, then reverting to little boys and jumping up and down when it finally landed.”
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