Third launch attempt scheduled for NASA super pressure balloon

Technicians perform pre-launch testing on the Extreme Universe Space Observatory 2 (EUSO-2) payload ahead of planned launch attempts. Credit: NASA/Bill Rodman

NASA is targeting Saturday, May 13 (Friday, May 12 in U.S. EDT) to conduct a second super pressure balloon (SPB) test flight launching from Wānaka Airport to further test and qualify the technology, which can offer cost savings compared to space missions.

The first super pressure balloon launch carrying the Super Pressure Balloon Imaging Telescope (SuperBIT) continues to perform brilliantly and has been at float for more than 25 days. SuperBIT is currently on its fourth circumnavigation of the southern hemisphere.

This second scheduled flight will carry the Extreme Universe Space Observatory 2 (EUSO-2) science mission. EUSO-2, from the University of Chicago, aims to build on data collected during a 2017 mission. The mission will detect ultra-high energy cosmic-ray particles from beyond our galaxy as they penetrate Earth’s atmosphere. The origins of these particles are not well known, so the data collected from EUSO-2 will help solve this science mystery.

NASA will begin flight preparations in the early morning hours Saturday in New Zealand and continue to evaluate weather conditions in real-time throughout the morning. If weather is conducive for launch, lift-off is scheduled between 8 and 11:30 a.m. locally (between 4 and 7:30 p.m. U.S. EDT Friday, May 12).

For subsequent launch attempts, if needed, NASA will announce by 2 p.m. NZST (10 p.m. EDT) if the next day’s forecast weather will support a launch attempt.

For those in the local area, the public won’t be allowed at or to park alongside Wānaka Airport on the morning of the launch for flight safety reasons. However, immediately after lift-off, the balloon will be visible for miles around—the best viewing points will be on the hill on the Hawea side of the Red Bridge by Kane Road or on the Hawea Flat side of the Clutha River.

The launch can be tracked in the following ways:

Ongoing mission updates are also available on NASA’s Super Pressure Balloon blog.

Third launch attempt scheduled for NASA super pressure balloon (2023, May 12)
retrieved 12 May 2023

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