NASA launch attempt Fri 21 April

In 2017 a 600 metre in diameter gravel launch pad will be constructed especially for the launch media

NASA is targeting Friday, April 21 (Thursday, April 20 in U.S. Eastern Time (EDT)), 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. locally (between 4 and 7:30 p.m. EDT Thursday, April 20).

This is the sixth scheduled launch attempt for NASA's 2017 Wanaka Balloon Campaign. A fifth attempt April 17 ended due to wind conditions (wind shear) that would not support moving forward with a launch attempt.

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.


The launch can be tracked in the following ways:

Super Pressure Balloon Facts

  • Volume of the balloon when fully inflated: 532,379 cubic meters (18.8 million cubic feet); about the size of a football stadium
  • Diameter of the balloon when fully inflated: 114.5 meters (376 feet)
  • Height when fully inflated: 68.96 meters (233 feet)
  • Altitude at float: 33.5 kilometers (110,000 feet)
  • 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 (22 acres)
  • The weight of the balloon combined with the suspended weight (gondola, flight train, and parachute) is: 4,909 kilograms (10,821 pounds); separately, the balloon weighs 2,414 kilograms (5,321 pounds) and the total suspended weight is 2,495 kilograms (5,500 pounds)