A STUDENT has launched a balloon into the upper atmosphere as part of a school project.

Rahil Vig, 17, of Langley Grammar School, shot higher than most for his school’s Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) – deciding that for his project he would launch a high-altitude balloon into the Earth’s upper atmosphere, complete with a functioning computer and camera to record the rapid flight to 79,0000ft.

Mr Vig got himself a part-time job to raise the funds to purchase all his equipment, in between preparing the balloon’s complex payload.

Mr Vig said: “Prior to the launch, I spent a month researching, testing and putting together the payload which contained a GPS tracker, a flight computer, an action camera and a power bank.

“I also sought permission for the launch from the Civil Aviation Authority who guided me through the launch planning process and issued an alert to all surrounding pilots in the area during the launch.”

Mr Vig launched his prepared balloon in Hungerford, and stood by to retrieve the balloon’s payload, which would be safely delivered back to earth by parachute when the balloon eventually burst due to the difference in pressure. Thankfully, his ambitious school project went off without a hitch.

He said: “The flight only lasted for two hours but travelled 24,000 metres up (79,000ft) and managed to capture video footage from more than 60,000ft. The balloon travelled higher than initial calculations predicted, and the payload landed closer than expected and exactly where the GPS showed – in an Oxfordshire farm where the farmer helped us retrieve it.

“The payload had gone to a height where you would need a pressurised space suit to survive, as blood boils up there. It endured speeds of more than 80 miles per hour as it fell from the stratosphere, and landed without a scratch.”

Mr Vig successfully downloaded all the collected data, and was delighted to discover his balloon had travelled 6,000ft higher than predicted.

Mr Vig said: “In the future, I plan to launch again – and this time aim for even greater heights.”