Outer space was firmly in the sights of nine intrepid students at Harrogate Grammar School when they launched their balloon up into the earth’s atmosphere.
After around four hours up in the air, the balloon - nicknamed the Odyssey - came down and went on quite an adventure back on earth, returning to the thankful troop weeks later and the footage is now in the editing process.
Launched from Cambridge, the balloon landed in Ipswich in Suffolk and was picked up by an unsuspecting family just 20 minutes before the students arrived.
Group member Matt Lumb said: “We calculated how high and how fast it got and managed to find out where it should come down.
“We put the GPS actually on the box so we knew where it was when it landed, but a family came and picked it up about 10 minutes after it landed so when we got there it had already gone. They gave it to a primary school nearby and they gave it back to us.”
Physics teacher at the grammar school Drew Burdett supervised the project.
He said: “We got some great footage of it launching and getting up and bursting and land. We also got footage of a family and a small dog picking it up and waving to the camera.
“It was predicted to explode and land in Colchester, so that is why we were only able to get there about 20 minutes after it was picked up.”
The group, all year 13 students who have only recently completed their A-level exams, came up with the idea after forming a physics club.
Dr Burdett said: “They basically came to me and said they wanted to have a lunch time club and wanted to do something interesting. Before we met up I had no idea what they had in mind.”
They then took the idea from an exciting concept, inspired by another school that had carried out a similar project, and applied for funding from the PTA.
Matt told the Harrogate Advertiser: “They said they would help us out if we could ensure a reasonable chance of success and provide the school with some good images.
“We managed to secure £750 towards the project. Once we had that we finalised what we would actually need, purchased the stuff, and went from there.
“We managed to get hold of everything we needed under budget, spending about £450 in total.”
Travelling up to a height of 33km, the Odyssey, along with its parachute, vanished into the sky from the launch site until the students received an alert that it had landed.
One frantic drive across Suffolk ended in disappointment, however, when the balloon couldn’t be found, and there followed a nail-biting few weeks when the students worried they would never see their footage.
However, after a phone call from Hadleigh Community Primary School, which had taken in the Odyssey after a student found it when camping with his family, it returned back to the grammar school.
The video is now being put together and shortened for a school assembly, where the group hope to encourage an interest in physics.
Headteacher Richard Sheriff said: “The member of staff involved, Drew Burdett, set it up and said here is this great opportunity, but the students did it all.
“It is just brilliant. The views from the stratosphere were great, and there was a great moment when it was recovered from a field by a family with their dog.”
l To see the video footage from the Odyssey’s four hour trip after launch by the group of Harrogate Grammar School students, go to the school’s website www.harrogategrammar.co.uk