NASA lines up seventh attempt to launch Wanaka balloon

Bill Rodman/NASA

Operations manager Ralph Fegan provides a birds eye view of Wanaka Airport.

NASA postponed its sixth super pressure balloon launch attempt at Wanaka and will have another go on Saturday.

Hopes for an 8am launch today were scuttled by high surface winds.

Campaign mission manager Gabe Garde said it was a close call.

The "NASA bacon and egg pie'' from the Warbirds and Wheels Cafe at Wanaka Airport lets off steam on the media bench ...
MARJORIE COOK

The "NASA bacon and egg pie'' from the Warbirds and Wheels Cafe at Wanaka Airport lets off steam on the media bench minutes after NASA's sixth attempt to launch a super pressure balloon launch was called off.

"The wind speed was below our limit for a time, but unfortunately picked back up at a speed that would not support a launch today. We were close once again in our processing, but the winds didn't set up in the end," Garde said.

The launch was officially called off at 7.50am, just before Wanaka's famous NASA bacon and egg pie landed in front of the five media organisations waiting since 5am to record lift off.

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The NASA balloon launch team prepare in the dark for the hoped-for dawn flight.
NASA

The NASA balloon launch team prepare in the dark for the hoped-for dawn flight.

The 2,377 kg stadium-sized balloon will carry a cosmic ray particle astrophysics payload from the University of Chicago and the Colorado School of Mines.

Ncknamed the EUSO-SPB, the payload will test a fluorescence detector and its supporting technologies in the stratosphere 33km above the earth.

The experiment is a precursor to a planned mission to install the EUSO telescope on the International Space Station.

The balloon and its science payload was expected to drift north east and begin a hoped-for 100 day journey around the world. 

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Ideally, it would come down in Argentina. Previous Wanaka balloons have been retrieved from the Australian Outback and Peru.  

Road closures on State Highways 6 and 6A will be scheduled about 30 minutes either side of a launch, with details provided by Radio Wanaka and on Wanaka Airport's Facebook site.

 - Stuff

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