Historical Launch Attempts
NASA has once again been based at Wanaka Airport to launch their Super Pressure Balloon.
Unfortunately their final launch attempt on Friday 27 May had been aborted due to mechanical issues with the balloon equipment.
This launch attempt was the sixth and final attempt of the 2022 Wanaka Balloon Campaign.
We will update this page with details of the 2023 campaign later in the year when we have them.
NASA launched its third super pressure balloon from Wanaka on Tuesday 25 April 2017 (ANZAC Day) to perform another flight test of its super pressure balloon. In addition, the balloon will this year fly the University of Chicago's Extreme Universe Space Observatory (EUSO-SPB) payload as a mission of opportunity. To commemorate the day, NASA launched the balloon with a poppy attached in a nod to the ANZACs.
EUSO-SPB is a high-energy cosmic ray particle astrophysics payload that will test a fluorescence detector and its supporting technologies under the severe operating conditions of the stratosphere. This suborbital flight is a precursor for a mission being planned to launch the EUSO telescope to and install it on the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA also announced they will build a dedicated 600 metre diameter gravel launch pad for the 2017 launch. This will enable operations to run alongside normal airport operations on launch day and minimise the impact on users and operators. NASA has also confirmed its commitment to Wanaka as a launch site for up to the next ten years.
NASA completed its third mid-latitude Super Pressure Balloon (SPB) flight at 11:24 p.m. EDT, Saturday, May 6, after 12 days, 4 hours and 34 minutes aloft.
Flight controllers at NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine, Texas, conducted a controlled flight termination of the balloon, which slowly descended back to Earth impacting in the South Pacific Ocean about 200 miles south of Easter Island.
Wānaka Airport launch, 25 April 2017
The team returned in 2016 to once again launch a SPB from Wanaka. In addition to testing another SPB, the mission flew the University of California, Berkeley’s, Compton Spectrometer and Imager (COSI) payload. COSI investigated longstanding mysteries of the universe, such as those surrounding the births and deaths of stars, positrons, pulsars and black holes. The SPB was successfully launched from Wanaka on May 17 2016 and flew for 46 days.
Wānaka Airport Launch, 17 May 2016
Wānaka Airport Launch, 27 March 2015
See the first Wānaka Airport launch as it happened!