Science-mad Eleanor Crimble (age 12) has astonished space experts by reaching 12,100 feet strapped to the rocket she built at home in Esher, Surrey.
Working secretly for six months in her parent’s shed, Eleanor assembled the machine from oil drums, scrap wood, pipework and other bits and pieces she found at the local dump. ‘I got the basic design from an old Blue Peter annual,’ she said. ‘And the rest I just got off the web, including a brilliant recording altimeter for £5.99 on Amazon. The propellant was a bit tricky but in the end I saw 190Kg of Ammonium Perchlorate on eBay and bought it with my pocket money.’
Her parents say they were totally unaware of their daughter’s project. ‘She told us she was making Christmas presents,’ said her mother. ‘So it was a bit of a shock when she suddenly took off last night. And it’s burnt terrible hole in the lawn.’
Eleanor’s trip lasted thirteen minutes and ended with her bailing out over the North Downs, floating to earth using the parachute she had stitched from a roll of old wedding dress material she found in a charity shop.
‘I’m not sure where the rocket is,’ she added. ‘Possibly somewhere near Dorking, if my sums are right.’