NASA Balloon Suffers Mishap in Australia
A NASA-sponsored balloon suffered a mishap during launch on April 28 at the Alice Springs Balloon Launching Center, near the town of Alice Springs, Australia. Upon release, the balloon's payload hit the ground and was dragged approximately 150 yards before hitting a fence and sports utility vehicle. No one was injured. A mishap investigation board is being convened.
The balloon was attempting to launch the Nuclear Compton Telescope, or NCT, a $2-million gamma-ray telescope from the University of California, in Berkeley. The payload is designed to study astrophysical sources of nuclear line emission with high spectral and spatial resolution. Damage to the NCT payload, project assets and area surroundings are currently being assessed.