KGUN 9NewsLocal News


Worldview blast felt at least three miles away

Balloon ruptured during a test Tuesday
Posted at 7:44 PM, Dec 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-20 21:44:53-05

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Worldview refers to its near-space balloon systems as disruptive technology---but what happened Tuesday was not the type of disruption they had in mind.
A balloon ruptured as a test was winding down.  

The shockwave was enough to shake people and cause minor damage far from Worldview's launch pad.

Workers started cleaning up right after WorldView balloon blew up on the pad. A day later people who felt the blast were still talking about it.

David Urbina works at Ascent Aviation on the western edge of the airport.  He says, “It sounded like a truck slammed into our building.  And immediately we went outside to survey the area to make sure if anything was struck or any damage to the building and everyone's walking around, looking like, did you see something, or none of us saw nothing.

It's no wonder people wondered what happened.
The explosion on Worldview's pad was about three miles away from where David Urbina was working.

Some of the businesses closest to Worldview are involved in things like defense work and they're not very comfortable talking on camera but they did tell us informally they remember that big boom, they remember feeling the shock wave and in some cases they had minor damage like ceiling tiles knocked out of place.

Clearly, explosions and fragile pottery do not mix.  

Pottery Warehouse is about a mile and a half from Worldview's pad.

Almost all of the pottery is just fine there but Ramon Aguirre says the shock wave was enough to knock some small ceramics off a wall.

"It shook the whole warehouse; shook, of course, the walls and our merchandise sort of fell on the floor and broke.  Knocked off all the dust off our rafters and it was pretty much scaring all our customers when that happened."
Worldview says it's already working to repair damage to businesses nearby.  The company says it was testing a balloon for a customer and can't say much more.  Worldview has been using balloons to fly military and scientific instruments.