12:30PM, Thursday 21 June 2012
Space: the final frontier.
This was the voyage of two friends as they boldly sent a balloon to the edge of Earth to seek out stunning new pictures of Britain.
BBC weatherman Peter Gibbs, 53, and Andrew Ashe, 54, spent just £290 building a homemade camera capsule and were delighted with the results.
"We don't think many other people have got such clear images of the UK," said Andrew, of College Avenue, Maidenhead.
"You can even make out Grimsby."
The father-of-five now has the pictures at home proudly alongside a NASA photograph which he estimates would have cost billions to produce.
"It is astonishing what you can do with a tiny budget," added Andrew, managing director of a multimedia publishing firm.
They launched it from Cowleaze Wood, Oxfordshire, on May 27, after getting permission from the Civil Aviation Authority.
The meteorological balloon, which was filled with helium, expanded to about 10m wide as it reached an altitude of 18 miles and then exploded (Picture above).
The camera plummeted at speeds of 500mph before a parachute released and it descended slowly back down.
The pair, who have been friends for years, tracked it to a polo club in Gloucestershire 50 miles away using a simple GPS tracker.
Father-of-two Peter, a TV weather forecaster from Pinkneys Green, said the experiment had gone 'perfectly'.
He was especially pleased because they captured a part of the atmosphere rarely seen on camera.
The group later toasted mission accomplished with a pint in the Air Balloon pub in Birdlip, Gloucestershire.
Watch the video here
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