NASA Postpones Balloon Launch; Sets Up For Final Attempt Friday in NZ

SPB Gondola
Technicians from NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility inspect the gondola in preparation for a planned super pressure balloon attempt. (Credit: NASA/Bill Rodman)

WANAKA, New Zealand—NASA postponed the scheduled launch of its super pressure balloon (SPB) from Wanaka, New Zealand, Thursday, May 26 (Wednesday, May 25 in the United States) due to unacceptable wind conditions.

Surface and upper-level winds were over 10 knots, which is well over the limits required to safely conduct launch operations.

“A high-pressure system that would have brought the exact wind conditions we need didn’t arrive in time for today’s launch attempt,” said Debbie Fairbrother, NASA’s Balloon Program Office chief. “At this time, it appears as though the high pressure will be well set up in the area for one final launch attempt for this year’s 2022 Wanaka Campaign.”

NASA has scheduled its sixth and final launch attempt for Friday, May 27 (Thursday, May 26 in the United States) from Wanaka Airport. NASA will begin flight preparations in the early morning hours Friday and will continue to evaluate real-time and forecast weather conditions throughout the morning. If weather and the predicted launch trajectory are 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 Thursday, May 26).

If NASA is unable to launch its super pressure balloon Friday, the team will close out its 2022 Wanaka Campaign in order to meet the mission needs of other planned campaigns in Sweden and the United States. “We’re hopeful that everything will align for this final attempt,” said Fairbrother.

For those in the local area, the public won’t be allowed at Wanaka Airport on the morning of the launch attempt or to park alongside the airport. 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.

In addition, the launch can be tracked in the following ways:

A live feed of the launch is available here:

Track the progress of the flight at the following link, which includes a map showing the balloon’s real-time location, at: