High surface winds scuttled NASA’s sixth attempt at launching a stadium-sized super pressure balloon from Wanaka in New Zealand on Friday, the media reported. NASA will make its seventh attempt at launching the balloon on Saturday, a Stuff.co.nz report said. “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,” Gabe Garde, mission manager for the 2017 Wanaka Balloon Campaign, was quoted as saying.
The balloon and its science payload was expected to drift north east and begin a 100 day journey around the world. 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.