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Day 1: On the Way

January 7, 1997 5:00pm EST

Less than 11 hours after the launch of the Virgin Global Challenger balloon, the around-the-world flight is heading in an easterly direction from Marrakech, Morocco. Wind speed and the balloon's altitude have varied throughout the day, and some unofficial reports suggest that the pilots have been testing the balloon envelope's performance by ascending and descending to various altitudes. Their first two milestones will be to cross the Algerian border and enter the jet stream for the long journey.

"The launch went great, the balloon is flying, and they are in an as-planned slow start toward the jet stream," said Chuck Foster from the Control Center in London. On another front, Virgin's Protocol Office has been faxing the many countries that the balloon may overfly to notify them of the successful launch.

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