NASA’s super pressure balloon team in Wanaka, New Zealand, continues to evaluate weather daily for conditions that could support a launch attempt of the pumpkin-shaped, football-stadium-sized balloon. At this time, the weather running through Thursday, April 7, will not support a launch attempt. Weekend weather is showing some potential, but the final call for any launch day won’t be made until the day before launch.
When the day comes…for those in the local area who plan to view launch from a nearby location, such as Mount Iron or the Hawea Flat side of the Clutha River, or those planning to watch on-line via NASA’s live webstream (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-csbf-downrange-operations), what follows is our list of super pressure balloon fun facts sure to impress your friends and family on launch day.
NASA’s super pressure balloon by the numbers:
- Volume of the balloon when fully inflated: 532,379 cubic meters (18.8 million cubic feet). How to explain it to your friends and family: “You could fit a football stadium inside the balloon when fully inflated!”
- Diameter of the balloon when fully inflated: 114.5 meters (376 feet). How to explain it to your friends and family: “That’s nearly the length of six cricket pitches.” For those of you out there thinking this comparison refers to a large group of insects, go ahead and replace “cricket pitches” with “bowling alleys” to get roughly the same comparison (and then look up “cricket pitches” for future use).
- Height when fully inflated: 68.96 meters (233 feet): How to explain it to your friends and family: “Same as the wingspan of a Boeing 747.”
- Altitude at float: 33.5 kilometers (110,000 feet): How to explain it to your friends and family: “Wow—that’s high!” At NASA, we call that the near-space environment above 99.9 percent of the atmosphere.
- Amount of balloon film used to make the balloon (the film is polyethylene—the same material used in sandwich bags, though our film is much stronger and more durable): 8.9 hectares (22 acres): How to explain it to your friends and family: “That’s one big sandwich bag.” Put another way: “The area of about nine rugby fields or 60 hockey rinks.”
- Combined weight of the balloon and payload for this mission: 4,500 kilograms (9,920 pounds): How to explain it to your friends and family: “That’s roughly 10 grand pianos or 2.5 mid-size cars. Other useful comparisons: 55 kangaroos, 100 toilets, or 1,000 cats. Using the convenience of the metric system: about 4,500 liters of water.