We track the flight in an Audi Q5 using the balloon’s signal-emitting beacons, which link up with a laptop that Dan is operating from the front seat of the car. While we are driving he is giving live updates on the flight, including information about location and altitude.
To begin with, the balloon travels due east as it climbs. After reaching an altitude of 42.8km somewhere roughly above Hull, the balloon bursts and starts to come down. It is pushed north-west by the wind and ends up descending over the Howardian Hills north of York.
Suddenly Dan shouts at us to stop, and we see an orange parachute pass over us and land in a field a few hundred yards away. We park and sprint over to the spot. On impact with the ground the model has sustained some slight damage to the wing mirror, but other than that it is intact. It appears that it was put together with the same dedication to quality and durability that all Audis are made with.
The all-important footage is on the camera’s memory card, and we hurry to load it onto the computer. Before long an image appears on the screen as solid proof of our success: a shining red Audi R8 floating in the sky, on the boundary between the sheer blackness of space and the benign blue curvature of planet earth.
Ingolstadt: Mission accomplished.
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