A plan to launch a deceased astronomy fan’s ashes into space was foiled after the balloon carrying his remains burst over the Kent countryside.
The family and friends of Phil Robson, who died last October aged 65, are desperately trying to locate his remains after the helium-filled balloon burst 20 miles into his final journey.
They believe his ashes may have dropped out of the sky somewhere above the hamlet of Leaveland, and are searching through fields in the area to try to find them.
Because he loved to look at the stars so much during his life, Mr Robson’s friends gave him a space-themed send-off by launching his ashes upwards, carried by the balloon, from a field in West Sussex.
His friend, Nathan McLaughlin, 44, told Kent Online: “Phil didn’t want to have a funeral.
“He was a really big fan of astronomy and space science, so I had this idea.”
Mr McLaughlin raised £2,000 in donations to launch his friend’s remains into the stratosphere, but the balloon only flew for 20 miles before bursting.
However, he is confident the ashes, which are in a sealed container, came down to earth in the Faversham area, somewhere around Leaveland.
He has asked residents there to keep an eye out for the package, which is inside a white polystyrene box that is attached to a neon green and orange parachute.
“I believe the box would have survived, because it is thick polystyrene and well insulated,” said Mr McLaughlin.
“On board that payload we have got high-definition cameras, with video of the flight and other really good-quality images.
“The equipment is not really worth a huge amount, the real value is the sentimental aspect.
“My theory is that it could have landed in a tree somewhere, or a lake. People may have seen it, but not known what it was.
“It would mean so much if we could get it back.”
A reward has been offered to anyone who sees the package or has any information which could help find it.