Thursday, August 15, 2002

"British lunacy at its finest"

Some forty years ago, the Soviets took the bull by the horns and launched Yuri Gagarin into space. Not long after that, the Americans got their man up there too, and before long manned space flight seemed common-place. We've had men on the moon, the Apollo-Soyuz link-up, the Space Shuttle, Mir, the International Space Station. And where has Britain been in all this time? Nowhere. The Russians let Helen Sharman hitch a ride, and some Brit had to become a US citizen to get a ride on a shuttle, but that, I'm afraid to say, is that. The World's former greatest colonial and exploratory power has done precisely zip in space. Until now.

Ground Control to Major Tom...
Great British Heroes. Barking Mad.

Step forward Andy Elson and Colin Prescot, pilots of the future. While the major space powers slug it out with expensive and frankly dangerous rockets, these guys are going up in a balloon. That's right - Qinetiq 1 - a whopping great big sack of helium the size of the Empire State Building which will take them up 132,000 feet and into space. They'll break the human altitude record and carry out some experiments whilst trying not to get killed. They are, in all probability, as mad as a sack of ferrets, and we here at Scaryduck salute them.

They've been testing the launch platform in Portland Harbour near to Scaryduck Towers, and by September they hope for a launch off St Ives in Cornwall, and at last we'll be a space power to be reckoned with. Elson and Prescot follow in a long line of barking mad English explorers - Sir Francis Drake, Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton and ...err... Dan Dare. Some of these people even came back alive. Best of luck chaps, we're right behind you.

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