Nasa mega-balloon test flight postponed

A crane takes Nasa's weather balloon back to the hangar at Wanaka Aerodrome earlier this month after the launch was postponed due to inclement weather. Photo/ Facebook/Nasa
A crane takes Nasa's weather balloon back to the hangar at Wanaka Aerodrome earlier this month after the launch was postponed due to inclement weather. Photo/ Facebook/Nasa

A much anticipated test flight for a Nasa super pressure balloon at Wanaka Airport has been cancelled today.

Winds were deemed to strong for the potentially record-breaking launch and officials are now closely assessing weather charts to see if it can take place either tomorrow or Thursday.

This will be the fourth flight of the 532,000cu m balloon, with the ambitious goal of achieving an ultra-long flight of up to 100 days at mid-latitudes.

Nasa hopes to use the technology as a low-cost way to conduct scientific investigations that would otherwise need to be done from space.

Campaign manager Dwayne Orr said initially they were confident of getting a morning lull in surface winds but at the point of making a decision to lay out the balloon the surface wind rose above six knots.

He said from past experience to proceed risked a successful launch and potentially losing expensive equipment.

The wisest decision was to call off the launch and wait for better conditions later this week.

"We were very close but then it started ticking away from us and we had to make the decision to stop it," Mr Orr said.

He said the Nasa team would hold a weather briefing today and make an assessment about re-launching tomorrow.

- NZ Herald

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