NASA just crashed a giant balloon carrying a 2.2 tonne payload into the Australian Outback

NASA’s experiment with its Super Pressure Balloon has ended prematurely with the space agency yesterday popping it over the Australian Outback.

“Controllers detected a leak developing in the balloon and for safety, issued flight termination commands at 11:03 p.m. April 27 EDT (01.03pm April 28 AEDT),” NASA announced.

The balloon is filled with helium and is huge – around 22 acres of material was inflated.

It’s designed to test carrying payloads of up to 3600kg at an altitude of up to 33.5km.

Launched from New Zealand’s Wanaka Airport on March 26, it stayed aloft for more than 30 days until controllers brought it down “over a remote area near the Queensland and New South Wales border just east of Australia‚Äôs Sturt National Park”. At the time, it was carrying a 2200kg payload.

Here’s how its 32-day journey, in which it successfully circumnavigated the Southern Hemisphere, panned out:

Picture: Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility/NASA

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