MISSION accomplished! These stunning pictures were captured by a balloon sent into space by Bolton School.

The Bolton School in Space (BSIS) project launched its high-altitude balloon last week, after receiving word from the launch-site in Elsworth, Cambridgeshire, that conditions were ideal.

Six members of the BSIS team — Alec Jones, Chris Walker, Graeme Butchart, and students James Whalley, Arran Davies and Alex Young — travelled to Cambridgshire for the launch.

Pupils designed the equipment and programmed technology to capture the curvature of the Earth through photographs and video footage using a helium balloon.

Once in the air the team followed the balloon using GPS, seeing the speed increase to more than 110 kmph as it climbed up into the stratosphere.

The balloon reached a height of 108,000 feet, making it the 50th highest launch in the UK, and the 75th highest worldwide.

The capsule was in the air for about two and a half hours and the team tracked it to RAF Barnham near Thetford — using a radio signal as the balloon’s GPS tracker failed later in the flight.

As the BSIS team neared the final location, they began to see Ministry of Defence signs, warning of nuclear bunkers on one side of the road, minefields on the other, and a mustard gas storage site along the way.

Officials from the RAF base handed the capsule over after the boys politely asked if they could have their balloon back.

Mr Jones said: “I am delighted that this went so well, as it has been two years in the planning. It’s a real boy’s own adventure story.

“The footage we got from outer space was stunning. The high altitude ballooning community has been very complimentary about our initial launch and were able to track the rocket by GPS as it moved across Google maps on their screens.”

“We hope this is just the start of Bolton School in Space, and will be meeting with the boys shortly to discuss our next adventure.”

Year 10 pupil James Whalley, aged 15, said: “The launch went as we could have hoped.

“The moment that we lost the GPS lock was worrying, as we thought that we might never be able to recover the balloon, however seeing it in the military base was a great moment.”