You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

NASA balloon springs leak after NZ launch

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/05/2017

NASA's super-sized research balloon has likely sprung a leak just days after launching from New Zealand, scientists say.

The balloon took flight from Wanaka airport on April 26 with the space agency hoping it would spend at least 100 days circling the planet at an altitude of more than 33km.

However, on the third day of flight, the balloon's altitude dropped significantly due to cold temperatures at night before climbing back to about 33km as it regained pressure with the warmth.

Since then, the balloon has continued to drop and gain altitude to an extent that was not planned.

"It's clear the balloon is no longer behaving as designed, and the data strongly suggests the balloon has developed a leak," NASA's balloon programme chief Debbie Fairbrother says.

"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 development comes after NASA took eight attempts to launch the balloon due to unfavourable weather conditions.

The balloon was on Thursday above the Pacific Ocean with NASA flight controllers in the US aiming to bring it down safely once it had made it over the ocean.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon