NASA’s Third Super Pressure Balloon

The third attempt of NASA for launching its aerostatic balloon, called Super Pressure Balloon (SPB) has delayed because of poor weather, said the agency in its recent official statement. The Super Pressure Balloon (SPB), which was scheduled to be blasted off from Wanaka, New Zealand, on 10th April, Monday is pushed forward because of obstructive climate at ground and surface levels of the launch site.

As said by NASA in its official blog post, “The speed of the wind at both ground and surface levels were just a little bit higher than those required levels for a perfect launch, and because of the vagueness for rainfall in the area, our team choose to put off the launch for the day.” However, up to now, no launch attempt is programmed for Tuesday. NASA, by 2 p.m., 11th April, Tuesday, will announce if Wednesday’s climatic conditions will be suitable for the next launch attempt of the Super Pressure Balloon or not and hence currently it has not scheduled any launch timing.

The first attempt to launch the SPB was negated because of intolerable stratospheric wind conditions. The first attempt was intended to carry a revolutionary telescope which is designed to detect ultra-high-energy extraterrestrial rays, coming from near space. Unfortunately, the second attempt was again cancelled down to a mechanical glitch in a crane, employed for the launch operations. However, later the issue has since been resolved, and NASA was completely prepared for the third launch attempt. The purpose of the third flight is to check and authenticate the technology of the Super Pressure Balloon with the objective of long-duration flight at mid-latitudes. However, regrettably, the third attempt was also delayed because of unsuitable climatic conditions.

Super Pressure Balloons are basically used for extremely long-term flights, intended for unmanned scientific researches and experiments in the upper altitude of earth’s atmosphere – a region where the atmospheric gas temperature remains steady during the diurnal cycle. In 1985 such super pressure balloons were employed for aerobots, flying at an altitude of nearly 50 km in the atmosphere of Venus. Renovating the operation, NASA in March 2015, launched an SPB to an approximate altitude of 110,000 feet for 32 days from New Zealand and the balloon, after a week, landed in Australia after a leak was spotted.


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