back to article Windy Wanaka wallops NASA's Super Pressure Balloon launch

Weather has again delayed the fourth launch of NASA's super pressure balloon (SPB) from Wanaka in New Zealand. The giant windbag, meant to stay aloft for around 100 days at 33.5 km altitude, has been waiting for the weather to turn in its favour since the beginning of the month. The problem is that even six knots of wind at …

  1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    I'd like to lend NASA a word


    1. AndyS

      Re: I'd like to lend NASA a word

      In December last year, someone from our Achieving Excellence department said in an engineering meeting "Going forward, as we cascade into the progression of the next phase of the project..."

      What he meant was "Next year."

      I've seriously considered a buzz-word bingo board, for any time anyone from that department steps into a real meeting. It would include "sub-team level", "lads", "cascade", "team board", "keep the wolf from the door", "going forward" etc. These are all said, with a straight face, daily. I wish these people would read Dilbert, or watch The Office, just to get an ounce of self awareness. It's embarrassing.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: I'd like to lend NASA a word

      preventing the team from moving forward

      It's supposed to move upward, doesn't it?

  2. Tromos

    Windy Wanaka

    Sounds like a character from a Roald Dahl story.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windy Wanaka

      I thought it was an Ubuntu release?

      Or possibly a nickname for Donald Trump.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Windy Wanaka

      I mis-read it and thought it had something to with a chocolate factory.

  3. AndyS


    Is it just coincidence that these balloons share a TLA with The Reg's esteemed Special Projects Bureau?

  4. EddieD


    Since us folks in Blighty are heading into a (very windy) late spring, I assume that the antipodean islands are heading into a late autumn...which is a season that is noted for progressively more wind as it shunts into winter.

    I assume that there is a good reason for launching at this time, given that a window to launch would be less likely.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Timing

      Must have something to do with the cats, I guess.

      1. EddieD

        Re: Timing

        I suppose so - all that wind would make the tether lines flutter around, and, well, you can't herd one thousand cats alll trying to play with string.

    2. Youngone

      Re: Timing

      @ EddieD

      You're not too far away.

      Most of New Zealand gets gales in the Spring and Autumn, what with being two tiny islands at the bottom of the world's largest ocean.

      The difference between New Zild and Britain is that we don't have a continent anywhere close to affect our weather. In fact, if you run a straight line East or West from Wanaka, you won't hit land until you reach South America.

      I'm going to assume that NASA is aware of all this and are confident of some calm mornings. They would do the job somewhere else otherwise.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Timing

      "Since us folks in Blighty are heading into a (very windy) late spring,"

      If they'd been anywhere in the north east of England on Tuesday they could have launched without problem. I did a 300 mile round trip and didn't see a single one of the many wind turbines I passed doing any actual work. Not one was turning.

  5. DocJames

    Job title

    “Balloon Program Office chief” would be so much better if it was "Balloon Programme Out-of-Office Chief"

    (its the outdoor one)

  6. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    If they really wanted it to get launched without a hitch surely they should just get a small child to hold onto the tether?

    Give it 5 mins and it'll be airborne before you know you know it. (usually followed by crying and an explanation of how they should have held onto it better...).

    Mines the one with a handful of nappy bags thrust into the pockets.... (which incidentally works wonders as sandwich bags too.. before use natch).

  7. The First Dave

    I thought we were running short of Helium? I guess now we know why!

  8. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    but Monday's aborted launch must have been intensely frustrating

    Especially to the cat-herders. I mean, it's bad enough trying to herd 6 (and not highly-successful at that - some of them are not considerate enough to have sufficient vices to exploit..)!

    I would image the cats are having a good laugh though. All those sheep to sharpen their claws on..

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: but Monday's aborted launch must have been intensely frustrating

      Start with a large box and a laser pointer. Once they see the red dot, point it in the box. Once in, duct tape the box shut. Not true herding but close enough.

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: but Monday's aborted launch must have been intensely frustrating

        "Start with a large box and a laser pointer."

        Even easier, just set the box in a room the cat aren't in, then say loudly, "Damn cats better keep the hell away from this box!".

        Then exit room, close door, count to three, re-enter room.

        Some-freakin'-how, the cats are all in the box.

        1. Public Citizen

          Re: but Monday's aborted launch must have been intensely frustrating

          And they all have a service-human named Schrödinger.

  9. x 7


    whats the sound of 1000 cats farting in unison?

  10. killakrust

    Wanaka... perhaps not he best choice

    I grew up not far from there, and it touted as one of the best places in the world for gliders, due to the great amount of wind and updrafts created by the surrounding plains and hills.

    FYI, it's pronounced 'Wah Nuh Kuh'. I always used to laugh when Yanks say 'Wha Nay Kay'.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020