CUTTING-EDGE receivers created at an observatory near Knutsford were last week blasted into space.

The equipment from Jodrell Bank is part of the Planck satellite, which will attempt to unlock the secrets of the Big Bang.

Dr Richard Davis, who has worked on the project for 15 years, said he was more than excited during the launch.

“I had to try and sit down and calm myself down,” he said.

“It felt as if I’d drunk two bottles of wine, but I hadn’t.”

Experts at Jodrell Bank near Goostrey spent years designing and building the equipment for the European Space Agency mission.

The receivers are the most sensitive of their kind ever built.

At 2pm on Thursday experts gathered at Jodrell Bank to watch live footage of the launch from French Guiana in South America.

Planck was placed on an Ariane 5 rocket with another satellite, Herschel.

Dr Tim O’Brien, head of outreach at Jodrell Bank, said the launch went smoothly.

“It was perfect – exactly as planned and on schedule,” he said.

Planck will now travel a million miles away from the Earth.

During the first five days the equipment will be acclimatised to the vacuum of space.

After that experts will begin sending signals to Planck to turn on some equipment.

About 23 days after the launch, Jodrell Bank’s receivers will also be switched on.

Experts then plan to tune the equipment so it gets the most data with as little interference as possible.

Dr Davis, who led the UK development of the low frequency receivers, said they could alter many of Planck’s controls, despite its distance from Earth.

“The information is coded and it’s sent via dishes. It should take about five seconds to get there,” he said.

After three months Planck should reach its orbit and start transmitting data.

The receivers will study ripples from the Big Bang that are almost 14 million years old.

Those ripples are the cosmic microwave background radiation, which led to the formation of the first stars and galaxies.

Planck will observe the whole sky at least twice during two six-month stints.

After about 18 months in orbit the data will be turned into maps of the cosmic microwave background.

Jodrell Bank astronomers will be among dozens of experts across Europe who will study the results.

By 2012 it should give experts the most detailed information yet about the birth and evolution of the Universe.

“We can’t wait to see the cosmic sky with the unprecedented resolution and sensitivity provided by the Planck satellite,” said Dr Davis.