29 Apr 2010

Space balloon crashlands in Outback

9:15 pm on 29 April 2010

A multi-million dollar scientific space balloon has crashed on take-off in the Australian Outback, destroying its payload, tipping over a car and sending observers running for their lives.

The balloon was scheduled to be launched about 8am on Thursday morning, but the ABC reports despite calm conditions something went wrong at Alice Springs airport.

A witness has described seeing the balloon, which was carrying a heavy payload of scientific equipment, smash into a fence before hitting a stationary car.

Balloon Launching Centre director Professor Ravi Sood says no-one was hurt but scientists involved in the NASA-sponsored project are "crushed".