A Powys couple had big surprise after a piece of high-tech space equipment landed in their back garden.

Charlotte and Allen Buckley, who run Brook Valley Glamping just outside Llanfair Caereinion, woke up on at 6.30 on a Sunday morning earlier this month (July 9) to see a strange object gently bobbing across their grounds.

“It’s just so strange,” said Charlotte. “At the time before we had a look, I joked with my husband that it’s a UFO because it’s an unidentified flying object and he was like ‘I doubt there’s green men coming out of it Charlotte’”.

“It was a white box attached to a balloon, at first I was very suspect over it – this is really, really random – but we went down to investigate.”

County Times: The balloon after it landed in the Buckley's gardenThe balloon after it landed in the Buckley's garden (Image: Charlotte Buckley)

“It’s probably six or seven feet long – it’s absolutely huge. We obviously had to retrieve it as we have a glamping business and it was a bit of an odd thing to have randomly land in your field when you have guests.

“It had a name across the top of it, it had a go pro on top a camera on the side a camera on the bottom and it had solar panels either side. It had a metal on the underside and had a phone number - a German number.”


The balloon turned out to belong to Solenix, an international company who provide software engineering and consulting services in the space market.

“We were excited and enthralled. We believed our payload landed in some forest 30 miles away,” said Martin Tykal, lead engineer and manager at Solenix.

“As we did not hear back from our GPS tracker, we considered the mission lost and had little hope someone could find it and would call us. When we got the call and learned that Charlotte is calling us from 560 miles away, that was almost unbelievable.”

County Times: The staff releasing the balloon in DarmstadtThe staff releasing the balloon in Darmstadt (Image: Solenix)

The balloons are a pet project of some of the staff and they launch roughly one balloon per year as a team building activity and they travel up to 23 miles into the atmosphere – three times as high as the average commercial flight.

“Mainly we take pictures and videos during the flight, as the perspective from this altitude is absolutely stunning,” said Martin. “We measure temperature and density, as it is a different environment of what we have down there.

“We typically have small bottles of Whisky in the box that we sample after a successful return – stratosphere Whisky just tastes different.

“For space enthusiasts like us it is the easiest and cheapest way to come close to space.”

County Times: Staff will add little mementos as it makes its flight to the edge of space.Staff will add little mementos as it makes its flight to the edge of space. (Image: Solenix)

In this mission though it appears there was slight error, ordinarily it is unusual for them to travel only 60 miles.

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“Typically the balloon rises quickly into the Stratosphere, where the ambient pressure is very low. This causes the balloon to expand until it pops,” said Martin. “The styrofoam box with our cameras, on-board computer and sensors then glides back to Earth with a parachute.

County Times: The balloons will travel up to 23 miles above the earth - right on the edge of space. The balloons will travel up to 23 miles above the earth - right on the edge of space. (Image: Solenix)

“During the launch we had a little accident and a rope we used to slowly launch the balloon got entangled and started with the balloon. This increased the total weight.

"We believe that due to this the balloon rose very high, but not quite high enough to pop. As such it drifted with the winds in the stratosphere all the way from Darmstadt in Germany to Wales.”

It is hoped that the balloon will be picked up in person from the Buckley family by a Solenix employee when they holiday in Wales later this year.