Equipment used to scatter the ashes of a West Sussex amateur astronomer has gone missing after the balloon containing them exploded in the stratosphere, said Sky News.

Nathan McLaughlin, 44, is now searching the Kent countryside near a hamlet called Leaveland for the missing kit after it was lost during a scattering for Phil Robson, who died at 65.

Mr McLaughlin, who described Mr Robson as a father figure, told Kent Online: Phil didn’t want to have a funeral. He was a really big fan of astronomy and space science, so I had this idea.

After raising £2,000 through donations, Mr McLaughlin gathered with friends and Mr Robson’s family in a field in West Sussex to launch the balloon with the ashes inside of it.

After flying for 20 miles (31km) the balloon burst as designed, scattering the ashes, but the balloon’s payload – including a tracking device and a camera – were also accidentally jettisoned.

Mr McLaughlin said that he thinks the payload came down just south of Faversham in Kent.

Local residents have been asked to keep an eye out for the balloon’s payload which is in a white polystyrene box attached to a neon green and orange parachute.

I believe the box would have survived, because it is thick polystyrene and well insulated, Mr McLaughlin said.

On board that payload we have got high-definition cameras, with video of the flight and other really good-quality images, he added.

The equipment is not really worth a huge amount, the real value is the sentimental aspect.

My theory is that it could have landed in a tree somewhere, or a lake. People may have seen it, but not known what it was.

It would be really nice to have some good videos and images from the flight. It would mean so much if we could get it back.

(c) Sky News 2018: Mistake as astronomer’s ashes scattered over Kent