The inaugural NASA balloon launch has been deemed a success and it is confirmed that there will be a launch from Wanaka airport in April 2016.
The test flight from Wanaka on March 27th had several goals, including completing a successful launch from a 45 degrees south latitude, which was achieved. Another was to remain airborne for a record period of time at a constant altitude of about 33 km. NASA said it’s balloons were designed to fly for 100 days and the record to date was 54 days, although the Wanaka- based mission would be considered a success if the balloon remained airborne for more than 10 days.
On April 5th, after 32 days airborne the balloon had nearly circumnavigated the globe when it developed a leak and was brought down for safety reasons. This decision was made quickly by the Texas based control team and the balloon was brought down in a remote area of Australia near the border between Queensland and NSW. NASA staff would travel to Australia to inspect the balloon carcass, investigate the cause of the leak and recover the balloon and its payload of tracking and telemetry systems, which were used to monitor it’s position and health.
The balloon that is expected to be launched from Wanaka next year would not be another test run, but would carry scientific research equipment.
Whilst over Australia the balloon was visible and had numerous sitings reported to authorities as a UFO.
What a great opportunity this is for the Wanaka community to be involved in – not to mention the potential economic impacts that it will have.
Learn about the NASA Super Pressure Balloon: