Boffins at Qinetiq in Farnborough are watching with interest as two British balloonists get set to attempt a new world altitude record.

The scientists at Farnborough have provided some key technological elements and training for the flight, which will attempt to reach into the stratosphere at 132,000 feet - about 25 miles high.

Currently the team is waiting for a launch window - about three days of fine weather - before the balloon goes up.

Piloted by Andy Elson, of Wells, Somerset, with co-pilot Colin Prescot, of Stockbridge, Hants, the launch will probably be from the deck of a ship. The men will be wearing space suits made in Russia.

Colin Prescot, who runs a firm called Flying Pictures Ltd, trained for the flight in Qinetiq's altitude chamber in Farnborough.

With a medical doctor accompanying him in the chamber, Colin was taken to 25,000 feet in a rapid decompression which took only a matter of seconds.

Reaching the equivalent of 25,000 feet in the chamber, Colin was kept at this altitude for a further 15 minutes, during which time he could experience what it might feel like if his life support system failed during the flight. If this happened he would get hypoxia and could fall unconscious in seconds, so it is vital for pilots to recognise the symptoms and react swiftly.

The previous world record was set in 1961 by two US Navy pilots who reached 113,740 feet.

Jumbo jets flying the Atlantic cruise at heights of about 30,000 feet, so the balloon will attempt to rise more than four times that height. The pilots will be wearing parachutes.

Picture: Hampshire balloonist Colin Prescot getting his hypoxia training at Farnborough in readiness for his balloon attempt on the world altitude record for a manned balloon. Colin and pilot Andy Elson are waiting for a weather window of three fine days before heading for the stratosphere.