The government shutdown in America is being felt at Wanaka Airport this week as news from NASA confirmed the 2019 Super Pressure Balloon launch from Wanaka has been cancelled.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration spokesperson Jeremy Eggers said in a statement the cancellation was due to processing and schedule delays resulting from the partial shutdown.
Two years ago NASA committed to having Wanaka Airport as one of its launch sites for the next ten years, as well as building a 600m diameter gravel launch pad at the site. The 532,000 cubic-metre balloon was launched from Wanaka Airport in 2015, 2016 and 2017, but last year launched from the European Space Range in Kiruna, Sweden.
“NASA is moving forward with planning infrastructure projects at the Wanaka Airport, such as plans for a new payload processing facility, that will better enable future NASA balloon campaigns in New Zealand. The programme is now targeting 2020 for its next Super Pressure Balloon launch from Wanaka,” Eggers said.
Eggers said the previous missions and the one planned for next year are primarily designed to validate and certify NASA’s super pressure balloon technology and its ability to achieve long-duration flights (upwards of 100 days) at stable float altitudes.
“These technology validation missions also support science missions in astrophysics and other science disciplines.”