NASA postpones fifth attempt at giant balloon launch; cites weather issues

The purpose of the flight is to test and validate the SPB technology with the goal of long-duration flight at mid-latitudes. 

By Zee Media Bureau | Last Updated: Apr 17, 2017, 17:40 PM IST
NASA postpones fifth attempt at giant balloon launch; cites weather issues
Image courtesy: NASA

New Delhi: With its failed first few attempts to launch its super pressure balloon (SPB) owing to poor weather, NASA has unfortunately postponed its fifth attempt at launching the balloon as well, on Monday morning.

Designed to carry a pioneering telescope to detect ultra-high-energy cosmic rays from near space, the giant stadium-sized balloon couldn't be launched due to bad weather yet again.

The wind was again unsuitable to launch 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.

However, NASA will be monitoring the weather on a daily basis to assess and figure out the appropriate time for the launch.

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. 

The balloon launch will take place in Wanaka, New Zealand.

(With IANS inputs)