Paper plane launched into space captures Earth images

Image caption,
Vulture 1 took off from a launch site in Spain

A British team is celebrating the launch of a paper aeroplane into space.

Steve Daniels, from Devon, John Oates, of The Register website, and Lester Haines embarked on the project to "reinvigorate the British space race".

The glider was carried into space by a helium balloon and released at 90,000ft (27,400m), before the balloon exploded and parachuted down to Earth.

On its way down cameras took images of the Earth in what is thought to be the first project of its kind.

The plane, called Vulture 1, and two cameras on the balloon were retrieved intact about 20 miles from the launch site, 100 miles west of Madrid in Spain.

The 3ft-wingspan plane, made of paper straws and covered in paper, took a year to perfect.

Its tracking devices, release mechanism and camera systems were all produced with the help of advice from readers of technology website The Register and defence technology firm Qinetiq.

A tube of cardboard formed part of the release mechanism and the cameras were kept from freezing with pocket warmers.

Both the plane and the balloon had tracking systems to allow the team to find them and retrieve the stunning pictures and video.

The idea for the £8,000 project, code-named Paris (Paper Aircraft Released Into Space), came from readers of the website.

Mr Oates, 39, from London, said: "We were looking for something fun to do and the readers came up with the idea of the paper plane.

Image caption,
Steve Daniels, John Oates and Lester Haines were surprised how easy it was to find the plane

"We felt the British space race needed a bit of reinvigorating."

The team was concerned that the plane, which took about 90 minutes to make the descent on 28 October, might veer off hundreds of miles from the launch site.

In fact both the plane and balloon landed only 23 miles away, in a forest. The only damage was a small hole in a wing of the plane.

Mr Oates said: "I thought they would take a good few days to find.

"It was a fairly remote part of Spain and we just missed a reservoir and a lion enclosure in a safari park, so we were quite lucky."

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