NASA to attempt final launch of soccer-stadium-sized balloon from Wanaka

NASA has scheduled a final attempt to launch its super-pressure balloon from Wānaka on Friday.

NASA’s super-pressure balloon last took off from Wanaka in 2017.
Photo: Provided: NASA/BILL RODMAN

Adverse weather conditions have thwarted NASA’s mission to launch the two-and-a-half-ton ball the size of a football stadium in recent weeks, including an attempt scheduled for Thursday.

Debbie Fairbrother, head of NASA’s balloon program office, said the final and sixth launch attempt was scheduled for Friday morning.

“A high-pressure system that would have provided the exact wind conditions we need did not arrive in time for today’s launch attempt,” she said.

“At the moment it looks like the high will be well settled in the area for a final launch attempt for this year’s Wānaka 2022 campaign.”

If it happened, she said takeoff was scheduled between 8 and 11:30 a.m.

Flight preparations would begin in the early hours of Friday, including weather monitoring.

The Nasa team would end its Wānaka 2022 campaign if it failed, she said.

“We hope everything will line up for this final attempt.”

The public will not be allowed into Wānaka Airport for the attempted launch, but the balloon would be visible miles after takeoff.

For locals, the best vantage points would be on the hill on the Hawea side of the Red Bridge by Kane Road or on the flat Hawea side of the Clutha River.

A launch live stream would be available online.

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