Branson goes global

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The Independent Online
Per Lindstrand, the balloon designer, and Richard Branson, head of Virgin Group, spent the day in Derby yesterday at the Rolls-Royce Aero Engines plant. A team from Rolls is helping them design, build and test a miniature engine that will power their life-support system during a planned two-week circumnavigation of the globe in a balloon. They will travel in a pressurised steel capsule at up to 35,000 feet, and be propelled by the jet stream to speeds of as much as 250 mph.

The balloonists previously courted disaster during a dangerous transatlantic crossing that ended in a crash-landing in the sea off the coast of Ireland. But Mr Branson insists that the current project will be meticulously planned. The trip is scheduled to start by late January.