Successful Compatibility Test Paves Way for Wanaka Balloon Launch

Technicians with NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) reached a major milestone Wednesday, March 30, after successfully completing an instrument compatibility test in preparation for launching a super pressure balloon from Wanaka, New Zealand.

The daylong test, also referred to as a hang test because it involves suspending the payload from the launch crane and hooking the entire system up from top to bottom, verified the balloon and science instrument systems are compatible and operating as designed.

The test involved technicians on site in Wanaka and back at CSBF’s operational control center in Palestine, Texas, which verified the ability to receive and send data from the payload to the satellites and back to the control center.

“The hang test is our most critical milestone from a mission assurance perspective,” said Dwayne Orr, CSBF program manager. “This successful test moves us one step closer toward officially declaring our balloon flight ready for launch.”

NASA’s balloon team in Wanaka will conduct a flight readiness review Friday, April 1, which is the final step to declaring the balloon ready for launch operations.

Current weather predictions show winds and precipitation exceeding launch criteria at least through Saturday, April 2. NASA will assess weather conditions for a possible launch attempt Sunday, April 3, and announce status via media and social media no later than 2 p.m. Saturday, April 2.