Wanaka Nasa balloon launch blown off schedule
Nasa has postponed the launch of its $1.94 million super pressure balloon at Wanaka Airport.
The organisation has also postponed the attempt for Sunday and Monday, due to winds and weather unfavourable for launch.
A decision will be made before 2pm on Monday as to whether Tuesday's weather will be appropriate for the attempt.
The crew of about 40 Nasa staff and international scientists started preparing at midnight on Friday for the launch set down from 5am.
Nasa campaign manager Dwayne Orr said the wind speeds were not suitable.
"It is around the edge of what we should be playing with, with this special type of balloon . . . There is no reason to take a risk with an expensive balloon like that."
Balloon programme chief Debbie Fairbrother said while it was disappointing, "that's ballooning".
As the media waited for bacon and egg pie made famous at last year's inaugural Wanaka launch, University of California, Berkeley PhD student Carolyn Keirans explained the gamma ray-detecting research project she and her colleagues from the US and Taiwan are working on.
The scientists were mainly looking for exotic objects in our galaxy but also other galaxies; things such as super nova explosions - the most distant distant objects ever detected.
"If we are lucky we will see something pretty far away," she said.
Keirans explained that the researchers wanted the balloon to stay up as long as possible and get as much data as possible with its Compton Spectrometer and Imager (COSI).
Ultimately, they would love to get COSI on a satellite so they could get many years of data. However, a flight of potentially 100 days was still exciting.
"We've been waiting for this for a very long time".
Helping at the aborted launch on Saturday were a select group of Wanaka locals Tony Culshaw, Grant Bissett and Eddie Spearing, who were videoing all aspects of the launch vehicle position and spool vehicle position for NASA
The video data is collected as general procedure at every launch.
"We got here at 4am. . . . Tony organised the job. It was pretty exciting. I was very disappointed [the launch didn't go ahead]. Things were ready to go and you think, what's wrong, let's go. But it is the column of air, the wind direction and its strength at different levels. We'll be back whenever required, apart from next Saturday, which is the Contact Epic [mountain bike race]," Spearing said.