Qinetiq1's balloon launch, from St Ives Bay, was postponed in 2001 and failed in 2003. It was postponed until 2005, but regretfully Qinetiq said that they were "reviewing alternative launch sites". If it were to be in the UK Cornwall would still seem an ideal site, however, and common sense suggests that if the publicity is to be for UK industry then the UK is still the favoured country for launch. Therefore Cornwall in 2005 is still a possibility. The flight is to a height of 25 miles. The authorities advise people against driving to St Ives itself to see the launch, because of road traffic congestion. However anywhere in St Ives Bay would make a good viewing site, and Porthtowan has an excellent view across the bay.

The launch in 2003 would have just missed the Cornwall cryonics conference by a few days. The conference started on Saturday, the launch was scheduled for Wednesday. However the launch was aborted because after a few minutes of filling the balloon with helium, it deflated due to a fault. At the time it is suggested that they would try again the following year.

On August 16, 1960, Joe Kittinger stood at the edge of his balloon's gondola, 19 and a half miles above the Earth's surface, and leapt out into the near vacuum of the stratosphere. More here.

Below, you can see the landing, and Joe Kittinger as he appeared on the BBC Television programme The Planets in 1999. The Planets is available from the BBC as video cassette or DVD collections, and the excellent sound track on a CD. Click here, or if that doesn't work, go to http://www.bbcshop.com/ and enter The Planets in the search box.

Click here for a computer mock-up of that you may see and also a short video of the 1960 balloon altitude record achievement.