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The launch of the Nasa high-altitude, super pressure balloon from Wanaka Airport next month will temporarily inflate the Upper Clutha’s population by 57.

Nasa spokesman Jeremy Eggers said this week those in Wanaka for the launch would include 12 personnel from Nasa’s balloon programme office in Virginia, 30 from its

Columbia scientific balloon facility in Texas and 15 members of the Compton Spectrometer and Imager science team.

The balloon will be monitored around the clock by other personnel in several locations.

Nasa hopes the 532,000cum balloon will survive for more than 100 days at an altitude of about 33km.

Asked about the potential disruption to the project from the coronavirus, Mr Eggers said Nasa was following the guidance of the United States State Department and Centres for Disease Control.