NASA successfully launched a super pressure balloon

By : |May 19, 2016 0

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Successfully Launches Space Monitoring Balloon From Wanaka Airport, New Zealand. It was launched at 11:35 a.m. Tuesday, May 17, on  what can be called a potentially record-breaking, around-the-world test flight. Come to think of it, a globetrotting super pressure balloon. How cool is that?

Here are the numbers; the balloon flies at an altitude of about 110,000 feet, in a layer of Earth’s atmosphere known as the stratosphere. The press release says,  Two hours and 8 minutes after lift-off, the 532,000-cubic-meter (18.8-million-cubic-foot) balloon reached its operational float altitude of 33.5 kilometers (110,000 feet) flying a trajectory taking it initially westward through southern Australia before entering into the eastward flowing winter stratospheric cyclone.

It is described by NASA as being “as large as 92 Goodyear blimps,” and is set to remain airborne for at least 100 days. It is carrying the Compton Spectrometer and Imager (COSI) gamma-ray telescope as a mission of opportunity.

                                 

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The objective behind the flight is to test and validate the SPB technology with the goal of long-duration flight (100+ days) at mid-latitudes.

John Pullen, vice president and general manager, Technical Services Division of Orbital ATK’s Space Systems Group says, “the successful launch demonstrates the value of an experienced scientific ballooning team and represents a partner NASA can count on.” He added, “The NASA/Orbital ATK’s CSBF team executed flawlessly on the mission and reinforced Wallops Flight Facility’s position as the world leader in scientific ballooning operations.”

After four previous failed attempts, owing to unfavourable weather conditions, this was the fifth launch attempt for the team. The entire mission will be monitored and controlled by NASA’s balloon experts at CSBF and at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.The on-site campaign operations in Wanaka have been ongoing since February and NASA’s balloon team has begun closing it down.

“We’re absolutely delighted to see NASA’s visit culminate in another successful launch,” said Ralph Fegan, Wanaka Airport operations manager.

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