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NASA prepares for Wanaka balloon launch

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/05/2016

American space agency NASA says the weather is the best it's been all year as it attempts again to launch a balloon from Wanaka.

Unfavourable winds prevented NASA from launching their enormous Super Pressure Balloon three times during April.

But on Tuesday morning, NASA began preparing the balloon for another launch attempt.

Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility manager Dwayne Orr said the wind was the lightest NASA had seen so far this year. "We feel like this is the best time to take advantage of this.

" A launch time of between 11.30 and noon was on the cards, he said.

A preliminary wind-checking balloon was sent up earlier in the morning.

Locals are being warned SH6 at Luggate will be closed for 45 minutes if the balloon manages to get off the ground.

Those keen to see the launch are being directed to Mt Iron or the Hawea Flat side of the Clutha River for the best views.

Last year NASA launched one of its big balloons from Wanaka that was meant to stay aloft 34km above the earth's surface for 100 days but it leaked and landed near the Queensland and New South Wales border after 32 days.

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