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Per Lindstrand: 'There will always be a piece of Shropshire on Mars'

Oswestry | News | Published:

Per Lindstrand, the Shropshire man behind the parachutes that safely landed the Beagle 2, said he had never been in doubt that they would work.

And today he declared: "There will always be a piece of Shropshire on Mars.

Speaking at his Lindstrand Technologies headquarters in Oswestry, Mr Lindstrand said it was great to know that the craft had reached the red planet and said that he had been proud to be involved with such an exciting project.

The Beagle 2: Artist's impression issued by the European Space Agency

But he said his one sadness was that scientist Colin Pillinger had died before knowing that his project had succeeded in getting to its destination.

"Colin would have been so proud that the European/UK craft had been a success and had reached Mars. It is very sad that he died last year," Mr Lindstrand.

"Finding the parachutes on the surface of Mars means that Lindstrand Technologies is one of only two companies worldwide that has successfully deployed parachutes in outer space.

"It also means there is something 'Made in Shropshire' on Mars."

The work record breaking balloonist successfully tendered for the contract to make the parachutes for the Beagle expedition back in 2002.

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"Although we were known for our balloons and not parachutes, the expertise and the facilities we have here in Oswestry won us the contract."

"We have a 'clean room' vital for a project like this in which everything has to be completely sterile. We also have the perfect test equipment here in which we can simulate conditions in space."

He said that there had been 10 test drops of the parachutes and all had been successful.

"We had no doubt at all that the parachutes would work."

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At the time of the flight Mr Pillinger said that use of a special lightweight material meant that Lindstrand could make a much larger parachute for the same mass allowance thus slowing down the probe more, 'the the slower the better', he said.

Mr Lindstrand was the first man to fly a hot air balloon across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and to the edge of space. His 1988 world altitude record flight to 20,000 metres lasted for 16 years.

"We were excited at the prospect of being able to use the expertise gained in meeting challenges on earth to help Beagle 2 land on another planet," he said.

"We now know that we did that successfully."

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