News Brief: A high-altitude balloon reportedly exploded at Spaceport Tucson in Arizona today after a test that was being conducted by World View Enterprises. No injuries were reported, but the loud boom shook up residents in the surrounding area. The Arizona Daily Star quoted World View spokesman Andrew Antonio as saying that the tethered balloon ruptured after a successful ground test to fill it with gas. The resulting explosion caused “superficial facility damage,” he said. World View can use either helium or hydrogen in its balloons, but the company didn’t say what was being used in this case. World View’s balloons loft “Stratollite” instrument platforms into the stratosphere. For more, check out the Daily Star’s report and this week’s report about World View’s first Stratollite imagery.
Update for 10:35 a.m. PT Dec. 22: A video of the explosion clearly shows the gas within the balloon going up in flames, which suggests that World View was using flammable hydrogen. KGUN reports that two of the company’s employees were treated for ringing in the ears. Also, World View tweeted that “we have initiated an investigation to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”