NASA has postponed its fifth attempt to launch a giant stadium-sized super pressure balloon (SPB) from Wanaka, New Zealand, due to poor weather, the media reported. The wind was again unsuitable for launching the balloon at the latest scheduled launch time of 7.50 a.m on Monday, the New Zealand Herald reported on Monday. “The wind direction today shifted toward the west, which ultimately led to today’s cancellation after hours of waiting for the winds to align,” NASA was quoted as saying.
“We were as close as we’ve ever been in this campaign for launching, but the wind direction simply wouldn’t support taking the next steps of bringing the balloon out and beginning inflation operations,” said mission director Gabe Garde.
NASA will continue to assess the weather daily to determine if conditions will support a launch attempt. The balloon is designed to carry a pioneering telescope to detect ultra-high-energy cosmic rays from near space. The purpose of the flight is to test and validate the SPB technology with the goal of long-duration flight at mid-latitudes.
In addition, the University of Chicago’s Extreme Universe Space Observatory on a Super Pressure Balloon (EUSO-SPB) is a mission of opportunity flying on the 2017 SPB test flight. EUSO-SPB is designed to detect high-energy cosmic rays originating from outside our galaxy as they penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere.