4 May 2017

Balloon failure a downer - NASA

12:12 pm on 4 May 2017

NASA's latest super pressure balloon flight has come to an untimely end just over a week after its launch from Wanaka.

Nasa's football-stadium-sized, heavy-lift super pressure balloon prepares to take to the skies over Wanaka.

Tha balloon just before launch at Wanaka Airport on Anzac Day Photo: NASA

It took eight launch attempts before the US space agency finally sent the huge balloon off on its anticipated 100-day journey on Anzac Day.

However, NASA's balloon programme chief Debbie Fairbrother said on the third day of flight the balloon dropped in altitude after flying through a cold storm.

The balloon was designed to float at a stable altitude despite different air temperatures, so it was clear the balloon was not behaving as it was designed to, she said.

"The data strongly suggests the balloon has developed a leak. This is an unfortunate development in our test flight, but we're gaining some important data from this mission that will apply to future flights."

The balloon is currently above the Pacific Ocean.

Flight controllers were monitoring it from Texas and once it had made it over the ocean, NASA would find a safe area to bring it down, the agency said.

In the meantime, NASA would continue to collect data on the balloon flight.

NASA launched another super balloon from Wanaka this time last year, which successfully completed its flight.

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