NASA launch attempt scheduled for Friday

Image: NASA

Click for live updates: NASA balloon launch - Live updates | Wanaka Sun 

Thursday, April 20, 11.29 a.m - Launch Attempt Scheduled for NASA Super Pressure Balloon

NASA is targeting Friday, April 21, to conduct a super pressure balloon (SPB) test flight launching from Wanaka Airport, New Zealand, on a potential 100-day journey.

NASA will begin flight preparations in the early morning hours Friday and will continue to evaluate real-time and forecast weather conditions throughout the morning. If weather is conducive for launch, lift-off is scheduled between 8 and 11:30 a.m.

This is the sixth scheduled launch attempt for NASA's 2017 Wanaka Balloon Campaign. 

- Jeremy L. Eggers

Chief, Office of Communications

Wallops Flight Facility

From Wanaka Sun (page 7)  20 - 26 April 2017

NASA postponed the fifth launch attempt of its super pressure balloon (SPB) on Monday April 17 due to winds blowing in a direction not suitable for a launch.

Wind speed and direction at the surface, lower levels, and in the stratosphere all influence launch day decisions.

The wind direction on Monday shifted toward the west, which ultimately led to the cancellation after hours of waiting for the winds to align.

Eastwardly winds at the surface and lower levels are key for launch.

NASA campaign mission manager Gabe Garde said,

"We took the payload out to the flightline, connected the parachute to the payload, and laid out part of the protective tarp for this attempt. We were as close as we've ever been in this campaign for launching, but the wind direction simply wouldn't support taking the next steps of bringing the balloon out and beginning inflation operations."

NASA will continue to assess the weather daily to determine if conditions will support a launch attempt.

  •   •  A live feed of the launch is available online here

Launch Viewing Information

Wanaka Airport officials advise that local residents and visitors will have the best vantage points for the launch from:

  •   •  The Hawea Flat side of the Clutha River

  •   •  Atop Mount Iron

  •   •  On the hill on the Hawea side of the Red Bridge by Kane Rd.

Road Closure Information

SH6 will be closed for up to an hour during the launch.  It will be closed from approximately 100m from the airport gate all the way to Luggate.  

The closure will start once the balloon inflation commences.   Detour via Haweas Flat.

This will be somewhere between 8am and 11.30am on launch day.

Mt Barker Rd & Stevenson Rd will not be closed for the launch this year.


Super Pressure Balloon Facts


  • Volume of the balloon when fully inflated: 532,379 cubic meters (18.8 million cubic feet); about the size of Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin


  • Diameter of the balloon when fully inflated: 114.5 meters  


  • Height when fully inflated: 68.96 meters  


  • Altitude at float: 33.5 kilometers  


  • Amount of balloon film used to make the balloon (the film is polyethylene—the same material used in sandwich bags, though our film is much stronger and more durable): 8.9 hectares 


  • The weight of the balloon combined with the suspended weight (gondola, flight train, and parachute) is: 4,909 kilograms  (almost 5 tonne!)


Click for live updates: NASA balloon launch - Live updates | Wanaka Sun


Read the Wanaka Sun Online here

Earlier editions of the Wanaka Sun here


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