NASA ready for Wanaka take off

Cover image: Last year’s Super Pressure Balloon launch happened on May 17 2016 and was airborne for 46 days - NASA

LATEST LAUNCH UPDATE 9am, March 30, 2017 from NASA communications chief Jeremy L. Eggers - 

"We continue our daily assessment of the weather for conditions suitable for launch.

Currently, the stratospheric winds at 33.5 km, where the balloon will float, are very, very slow—just a few knots.

Where we need very slow winds at the surface and lower-levels (below 300m) for launch, higher winds in the stratosphere are preferred so that our balloon is well on its way over the ocean by the time it pressurizes at float altitude.

At this time, with forecast rain over the weekend, it appears as though early next week—knock on wood—might shape up for us. At this time, though, it’s still too early to tell."  

- NASA communications chief Jeremy L. Eggers

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Wanaka Sun | 30 Mar - 5 Apr 2017 | Edition 811

Wanaka Sun (page 2) The window for NASA’s third Super Balloon launch opens on Saturday March 25, meaning that the balloon could be launched as early as the next few days.

While all operational tests are currently being carried out to ensure that the balloon is ready to launch, the weather will play a major role in when it can be done.

Winds need to be light and flowing in a reliable direction and managers will assess conditions 13 hours before the beginning of initial launch preparations to determine whether or not they are suitable for launch.

"Given all the variables we work with, the least of all being Mother Nature, seeing favorable launch conditions on the first day of a campaign's launch window is uncommon for our operations," said Gabe Garde, NASA mission manager for this year's flight campaign. "As with previous campaigns, our team will assess weather daily to determine if the conditions are right to support a launch attempt."

- NASA communications chief Jeremy L. Eggers

In addition to unfavorable weather preventing launch, NASA continues to work necessary overflight clearances for countries that could potentially be along the balloon's flight path as it travels around the world in the southern hemisphere's mid-latitudes. In the meantime, the NASA team is engaged in a number of outreach events in the local area.

Nearly 250 people attended a "Locals Day" Open House event at the Wanaka Airport March 23 to learn more about the super pressure balloon and the Extreme Universe Space Observatory-SPB science payload flying as a mission of opportunity on this year's mission.  

Residents using Mount Barker Road are advised that it will not be closed for the launch this year, however road users should prepare for the closure of State Highway 6 for a short time.

The highway will be closed from approximately 100m away from the airport gate to Luggate once balloon inflation starts, as per previous launches.

For more information about the EUSO mission, see: EUSO mission.

For more information about NASA's scientific balloon program, see: NASA's scientific balloon program.

RELATED: NASA balloon taking flight | Wanaka Sun (March 24, 2016)

Why Wanaka works well for NASA balloons (March 27, 2016)

Flight Complete: NASA balloon sets record | Wanaka Sun (July 3, 2016)

Click to read the print edition of the Wanaka Sun online... Wanaka Sun | 23 - 29 Mar 2017 | Edition 810


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