NASA balloon reaches Australia after nearly one month of flight

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va., April 24, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- After nearly a month of flight, a massive NASA Super Pressure Balloon (SPB) is closing in on a key milestone of completing the first of many planned circumnavigations of the globe.

nasa-logo-200px.pngLaunched from Wanaka Airport, New Zealand, March 26 EDT (March 27 in New Zealand) and flying due east, the balloon is predicted to begin overflight of Australia Friday, April 24 EDT, (Saturday, April 25, in Australia) approaching from the south just west of Melbourne, and flying northerly for several days before eventually continuing east.

The overall mission goal is to validate the SPB technology, capable of flying long duration missions at a constant altitude. The science and engineering communities have previously identified long-duration balloon flights at constant altitudes as playing an important role in providing inexpensive access to the near-space environment for science and technology. NASA's SPB can carry a payload weighing several tons to an altitude above 99.5 percent of the Earth's atmosphere.

The balloon last saw land April 1 during overflight of the southern tips of Chile and Argentina. NASA hopes to fly the SPB for more than 100 days; the current SPB flight duration record is 54 days.

NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia manages NASA's Scientific Balloon Program with 10 to 15 flights each year from launch sites worldwide. For more information on the NASA Scientific Balloon Program, visit:

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