Pioneering transatlantic hydrogen balloon attempt scuppered by weather

A bid to cross the Atlantic for the first time in an open basket hydrogen balloon has been scuppered by the weather seven hours after launch.

British explorer Sir David Hempleman-Adams, 67, set off from Presque Isle, Maine, with American balloon manufacturer Bert Padelt, 62, and Swiss scientist and entrepreneur Dr Frederik Paulsen, 72.

The three aeronauts lifted off in the Torabhaig Atlantic Explorer Balloon to cheers from supporters at around 10.30pm on Friday local time or 3.30am UK time on Saturday.

Their attempt had already been postponed twice due to bad weather but on the third occasion it "cleared up perfectly" for take-off, according to the team.

However, conditions then meant the balloon would require an altitude higher than planned, meaning an increased use of ballast.

A spokeswoman said: "The crew have decided to land the balloon before the Gulf of St Lawrence.

"They concluded they would not have had enough ballast to make it to Europe."

The balloon landed at 9.40am local time near Christies Landing in New Brunswick, Canada, on Saturday.

The spokeswoman added: "The crew are safe and well. It was a very difficult decision and they are obviously extremely disappointed but safety is obviously paramount.

"They flew for about seven hours, the highest level they flew at was 10,000 feet and about 125 nautical miles in distance."

Read more on Sky News:
New York Times calls on Biden to quit race
Alec Baldwin faces trial over fatal Rust shooting

She confirmed they would attempt the challenge again when conditions permitted.

During their voyage, the team planned to conduct experiments including a study to ascertain how particles from forest fires travel through the atmosphere and affect conditions such as asthma.

Their living space throughout their adventure was the balloon basket which measures just 80in (203cm) long and 60in (152cm) wide.

If they had been successful, their trip would have been the first transatlantic crossing in a hydrogen balloon and could also mark the longest distance covered in this type of balloon.

Gas balloons differ from hot air balloons in that they are sealed and do not use propane burners to heat the air that fills and lifts them.

They are usually used for unmanned research flights, such as weather balloons.