IT was a case of to infinity and beyond for Hartford Scouts after they launched a balloon to the edge of space.

As part of their mission to earn their astronautics badge, members of the group gathered excitedly at Hartford Scout Hut to see their projects head towards the heavens.

They were able to monitor the balloon’s progress on TV screens in the mess tent as it embarked on its journey thanks to data produced by sensors and cameras attached to the balloon.

And experts were on hand from the European Space Agency, who had worked closely with the scouts for several weeks, to explain what was happening and to answer any questions.

The whole purpose of the experiment was to discover the impact of the altitude on certain items, and to give the scouts a taste of what a future career in the space industry would be like.

With the balloon went a cuddly kangaroo to see the effects of temperature and pressure, a pig’s eyeball to see what happens in the near vacuum of space, a piece of pig skin to check the effects of radiation and the altitude’s impact on fluids including water, blood, urine, and oil.

Northwich Guardian:

The balloon reached the upper limits of Earth’s atmosphere, before travelling easterly over the Pennines to Nottinghamshire and reaching a height of 27.5km.

At this point, the balloon burst, the items landed in a lake and were recovered by an angler in Gunthorpe near Nottingham.

As well as the balloon launch, scouts received talks from a wide variety of high-profile space organisations and enjoyed activities including a virtual reality Mars base and rocket building.

Speaking about the experiments, scout leader Ian Johnson said: “This has been an amazing opportunity for the Hartford Scouts to learn about space and why we send people there.

“We hope that all involved had fun achieving their astronautics badge and gained an insight into the amazing opportunities happening now in the space sector.”

The astronautics badge is sponsored by the UK Space Agency, and the events were organised by former Scout Ray Stott.

Ray and Scout leader Ian were scouts together 40 years ago at 1st Hartford.


Northwich Guardian:

The project could not have gone ahead without the help of the following:

  • Ray Stott, Founder SpaceSpecialists
  • Alan Cross, North West Ambassador for European Space Agency
  • Samantha Graham, Jonny Heirons and Dale Lockett propulsion engineers at European Astrotech
  • Bob Morris, Chairman of Northern Space Consortium
  • Mark Waters and Jason Podmore of 4wardfutures, with their virtual reality Mars base
  • Zuzanna Nagadowska, president of Manchester Students for the Exploration and Development of Space
  • Mitch Hunter-Scullion of Asteroid Mining Corporation
  • Andrew Gray, Space4All Education

The Scouts also wished to thank European Astrotech, who facilitated the balloon launch free of charge.