Dr Mike Stroud said he firmly believed the team “can do this a low risk, despite the age of some of them”. He conceded that Sir Ran’s physical health could not be expected to be as it was when he was half his age, however technology a significance to overall safety.

Anton Bowring added that it nevertheless was a major and risky attempt never done before. “We have only been able to get here today after five years of intensive planning. Don’t underestimate the amount of work that has gone into this. Imagine it as the office version of crossing the Antarctic,” he said. He congratulated operations manager Tris Kaye for his “extraordinary” efforts.