Punctured pride

 作者:温夔     |      日期:2019-03-07 07:20:00
By Rachel Nowak, Melbourne NASA’s second attempt to send a giant test balloon to the edge of space and around the world has failed. The Ultra Long Duration Balloon is designed to do the work of some research satellites but at a fraction of the cost. The ULDB was launched on Saturday morning from Alice Springs, Australia. “We had good balloon pressure during the day, but the next morning it did not repressurise,” says ULDB Vehicle Manager Henry Cathey. The balloon’s failure to increase in pressure with the heat of the day suggests that it had sprung a leak. But Cathey cautions that his team needs to examine the flight data before they will know for sure. The giant balloon has a US$1 million payload and the NASA team had to scramble to bring it down on dry land, rather than ditching in the Indian Ocean. The ULDB finally touched down in Western Australia with just a few kilometres to spare. “It was a bit hectic here for a while,” says Garry Woods, acting station manager for the Balloon Launching Station at Alice Springs. The payload has been located from the air, and the ULDB team is now heading out to retrieve it. The second balloon was launched with the hope of finding clues to what caused the first balloon to spring a leak just 100 minutes into its test flight. The NASA investigation team suspects that the problems in the first test flight were due to a weakness in the balloon material that was exacerbated by unexpectedly high strain forces during the launch. If the second balloon also sprang a leak, the damage to the material may have had different cause, says Woods. “On filling there were a few problems with handling. The balloon was stretched and that could have led to a leak.” More at: NASA ULDB Balloons could do the work of some satellites (13-02-01) First attempt fails,