Chippenham students will be attempting to send a weather balloon up to the edge of space next week.

The launch is the culmination of the latest enrichment project by Wiltshire College’s engineering department, and a result of an £1,500 award by Chippenham Borough Lands Charity.

At 8am on Monday (June 21) engineering students from the College's Chippenham campus will launch the balloon, which is capable of travelling to heights of 100,000 feet.

Mark Ghinn, lecturer in electronic engineering, organised the project so students could gain valuable experiences alongside their studies.

He said: “The students are very much looking forward to it. They have already invested a lot of time and thought into the project.

“It is hoped that other students, staff, families and locals will also be able to enjoy it. The balloon will be visible through binoculars for part of its ascent, will get larger as it rises and be airborne for about four hours.”

The weather balloon, which will grow to about eight meters in diameter, will have a camera, GPS tracking and other equipment onboard up to its highest altitude before it parachutes back to earth.

This will be three-times higher than the cruising altitude of airliners and more than three-times the height of Mount Everest.

Students will need to consider factors that they may not normally experience, allowing them to learn from considerations including buoyancy, meteorology, GPS tracking, air traffic, thermal insulation, safe payload descent and recovery.

The Civil Aviation Authority have been contacted and granted permission to fly, and to issue a Notice To Airmen (NOTAM), so other aircraft are aware of the location, size and ascent time of the balloon.

There are many more logistics for students to get involved with pre-launch, such as designing and constructing the payload, sourcing weather predictions to approximate landing location and helium content, with ascent rate being calculated on the day depending on wind speeds and directions.

Once launched, the group will drive to the expected landing location while tracking the GPS location of the balloon.

Contact is expected to be lost with the balloon once it reaches two or three miles altitude, but will regain contact during its descent, which will provide a point on a map to recover it.

Mark added: "Chippenham Borough Lands Charity have been instrumental in enabling this to happen. We're counting down to launch day now!"