NASA faces record number of launch bids
NASA’s fifth attempt to launch its Wanaka super pressure balloon was cancelled on Easter Monday due to unfavourable winds.
The launch team will try again as soon as the forecast allows.
The balloon took off on its fifth attempt in 2016. In 2015, NASA achieved a dream scenario of launching on the second attempt.
NASA communications spokesman Jeremy Eggers said wind speed and direction at surface, lower levels and in the stratosphere influenced launch decisions.
On Monday, the wind shifted to the west.
Eastwardly winds at the surface and lower levels are key for launch, he said.
Campaign mission manager Gabe Garde said the team was ‘‘as close as we’ve ever been’’ this year.
‘‘We took the payload out to the flightline, connected the parachute to the payload, and laid out part of the protective tarp . . . but the wind direction simply wouldn’t support taking the next steps of bringing the balloon out and beginning inflation operations.’’
The balloon will carry a science payload from the University of Chicago and Colorado School of Mines 33km into the stratosphere.
The balloon team hopes it will stay aloft for a record-breaking 100 days before coming to land in Argentina.
Media advisories are issued before attempts. At the time of going to print it was not known if a launch would be possible on Wednesday.
‘‘As close as we've ever been...’’