After weather delayed the first Red Bull Stratos jump from 120,000 feet, Sunday October 14 2012, will go down as a historic day for team Red Bull and Felix Baumgartner. The team meticulously prepared and simulated the jump which took place in Roswell, New Mexico. All of the preparation and research paid off and has landed Baumgartner the world record for the highest skydive.
The Red Bull Stratos event was live streamed and seen by millions over its YouTube channel and other media outlets, including the BBC. The feed included footage of the massive balloon with almost 30 million cubic feet of helium to transport Baumgartner to the target altitude, as well as the 20-point egress checklist for Baumgartner.
I watched the coverage nonstop. The amount of technology and research behind this project just blew my mind. As I mentioned on a previous episode of Yet Another Tech Show, I was concerned about Baumgartner’s suit during his leap. The space suit was fitted with several sensors and instruments to help protect the jumper from the extreme temperatures of the stratosphere. The suit and helmet were was so massive, that in order for Baumgartner to see around the cabin, he had to use a mirror to check the gauges. See below.
At one time, the cabin temperature of the Red Bull capsule was 55 degrees Fahrenheit while the outside temperature was approximately -80 degrees Fahrenheit. Baumgartner seemed to be just fine while in the comfort of the cabin. The only documented issue prior to the jump was his face shield, which had heaters in it that wouldn’t heat up properly. This malfunction made Baumgartner’s face shield fog up when he exhaled. Jumping from almost 130,000 feet is one challenge, but jumping blindly would be another.
As the team reached hovering altitude at approximately 129,000 feet, the seriousness of the event began to show through the interchanges between the mission control team and Baumgartner. You could hear Baumgartner’s breathing increase. The 20-point check list became more than 30 items as retired USAF Colonel Joe Kittinger checked off all of the jump procedures established by mission control to Baumgartner. A few times, when communication was delayed between Kittinger and Baumgartner, you could hear the tension crackle across the audio stream when it came back. Fortunately, Baumgartner successfully got through all the checklist items.
The suit had to be pressurized just prior to the jump. This was a critical step that had to be done before the cabin door opened to the vacuum of space. As Baumgartner peeked out of the cabin, Kittenger continued to encourage him as cameras around the cabin offered breathtaking views of space and our magnificent planet. Baumgartner said a few things just before the jump which I had a hard time understanding due to the audio static, but based on his hand gesture shown below, he was ready to make a jump into history.
And away he goes. . . .
The jump was a thrilling success. I sat on my couch watching the YouTube stream via my GoogleTV thinking how I was witnessing history that wasn’t just about sports or thrill seekers. It was science and research. With this jump, the Red Bull Stratos team has recorded information about space travel affects on the human body and collected data for skydiving at extreme altitudes. We hope it never happens, but what if a space station has to have the crew abandon it? Data collected from this jump could potentially provide valuable insight.
Image credit: Ant Pruitt for aNewDomain.net
I thoroughly enjoyed the event and can’t wait to see more documentaries of the jump. The BBC and the Discovery Channel will provide more interviews and insight in forth-coming documentaries. Check the sites for details.
Congratulations to Felix Baumgartner and team Red Bull Stratos on this astronomical feat.
I’m Ant Pruitt and this is aNewDomain.net
To see all of Ant’s stories, click here.
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