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Words in the News
Wednesday 03 September 2003
Balloon record attempt fails
Balloon A big problem during the preparation of the world's largest helium balloon has forced the manned balloon altitude record attempt to be stopped. The team had hoped to rise forty kilometres above the Earth's surface, but it's unlikely that another launch date will be set until next summer at the earliest. This report from Ania Lichtarowicz.
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Since the early hours of the morning the Qinetiq-one team had been carrying out final checks and they'd started inflating the balloon. But as it was being rolled off its drum the balloon twisted and the helium at the top of the balloon came under immense pressure, causing a seam to split. As there was no spare balloon and not enough helium, the attempt was aborted.

Brian Jones, Mission Controller of Qinetiq-one, and the holder of seven world ballooning records himself, says they'll keep trying. The balloon will now be taken back to base and thoroughly checked. Ironically, the expensive technical equipment seems intact and the weather conditions are perfect.

The team say that a structural failure like this should be overcome, but as they've now missed their weather window for this year, they'll have to wait 'til next summer to try again.

Ania Lichtarowicz, BBC News, St. Ives, Cornwall.

Listen Listen to the words
filling something with air or gas
the kind of gas they were using to fill the balloon
very strong
a seam
the line where two pieces of material join
to split
to break
stopped completely, not to be continued
not broken, in good condition
a structural failure
a problem with the way something is built
if you overcome a problem, then you deal with it and control it so that it is no longer a problem
weather window
a period of time when the weather is good enough to do something
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