NASA is targeting Monday, April 10 (Sunday, April 9 in Eastern Time), to conduct a super pressure balloon (SPB) test flight launching from Wānaka Airport, New Zealand, on a potential 100-day journey.
NASA will begin flight preparations in the early morning hours Monday 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 Sunday, April 9).
At this time, weather conditions are considered marginal for launch.
“There are periods of light rain forecast tomorrow, but we may have a launch opportunity early in our window,” said Gabe Garde, mission manager for the 2017 Wānaka Balloon Campaign. "In the stratosphere at 33.5 km (110,000 feet), the winds are forecast to take the balloon due east after launch, which is ideal for our operations."
This is the third scheduled launch attempt for NASA's 2017 Wānaka Balloon Campaign. The first attempt was canceled due to unacceptable stratospheric wind conditions; the second attempt was canceled due to a mechanical issue with a crane used for launch operations, which has since been resolved.
Launch Viewing Information
Wānaka 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:
- A live feed of the launch is available here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-csbf-downrange-operations
- Track the progress of the flight at the following link, which includes a map showing the balloon’s real-time location, at: http://www.csbf.nasa.gov/newzealand/wanaka.htm
- For mission status updates follow NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility social media accounts www.facebook.com/NASAWFF www.twitter.com/NASA_Wallops
- For launch updates follow on Wānaka Airport’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/WanakaAirport
- For the live broadcast from Wānaka Airport tune in to Radio Wānaka 92.2 FM
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