The Red Bull Stratos installation at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, OH will be available through March 16 of this year. The exhibit was launched with a presentation featuring Col. (Ret.) Joe Kittinger, Art Thompson and Jonathan Clark. We encourage interested parties to visit the display, leave comments on our facebook page and to support the good work of the museum and all of its staff and volunteers.
On 3 October 2013, Mr. Thomas Bowen passed away following an extended battle with respiratory illness. The high altitude reconnaissance community lost a true champion and mentor. Mr. Bowen entered the U.S. Air Force on 8 August 1949 as a life support technician. His first assignment was Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ. He supported B-29 bombers, including the Enola Gay that was assigned to his squadron. He was also assigned to Mountain Home AFB, ID and Plattsburg AFB, NY, supporting B-47s and B-57s. Mr. Bowen’s first overseas assignment was with the South Korean Air Force, supporting P-51s. In 1956, he attended Pressure Suit School at Maxwell AFB, AL and disappeared into the “Black World.” His high altitude physiological support included all the early CIA pilots. In 1960, he was waiting in Norway to recover the aircraft of U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers, who was shot down over the Soviet Union.
In 1974, as a civil servant, Mr. Bowen returned to the U.S. Air Force’s high altitude U-2 reconnaissance program at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ. In 1976, when high altitude military reconnaissance was consolidated under the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, he moved with the U-2 program to Beale AFB, CA. Mr. Bowen was a highly respected mentor, sharing his experience and knowledge with both life support and physiological training personnel. During his career, he personally trained hundreds of high altitude pilots, reconnaissance systems officers, and passengers. He recently trained high altitude jumper, Felix Baumgartner, who went on to break the high altitude free fall record [under Red Bull Stratos], jumping from a balloon 24 miles above the Earth in 2012. Mr. Bowen retired from his position as Technical Director of the 9th Physiological Support Squadron, Beale AFB, CA, in 2012, and was awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service award for demonstrated significant accomplishments, leadership, unusual competence, and significant impact upon the Air Force mission throughout his career.
In total, Mr. Bowen’s career spanned nearly six decades of service and includes 21 years active duty in the United States Air Force, 4 years with the Central Intelligence Agency in life sciences, and 36 years as Chief of Life Sciences and Technical Director for U-2/TR-1/ER-2/SR-71 high altitude intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (HAISR) programs. He provided technical guidance to Lockheed’s Skunk Works and the David Clark Company on aircraft life support systems, full pressure suit (FPS) development, and survival equipment. He has been primary consultant to all U-2 and SR-71 mishaps that involved life support systems. An innovator and forward thinker, he pushed to design mission-specific life support equipment including the seat kit configuration for harsh environments, the automatic deployment system, and the implementation of the zero-zero ejection seat capability for U-2/ER-2 aircraft.
Additionally, Mr. Bowen was instrumental in the development of FPS-specific training programs including high altitude chamber flights, egress training, water survival, and field escape and resistance programs tailored to the HAISR mission. He has ensured the advancement of life support systems for HAISR aircraft for the CIA, USAF, NASA, and international U-2 programs for the United Kingdom and China. In 2006, Tom was honored by the Aerospace Physiology Society with the Fred A. Hitchcock Award for Excellence in Aerospace Physiology.
Mr. Bowen was a true visionary and leader; his legacy of technical support to the DoD Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance programs will never be surpassed.
On Saturday, November 16, 2013, the International Air & Space Hall of Fame will induct Art Thompson, Colonel Joe Kittinger and Felix Baumgartner for their distinguished work on the Red Bull Stratos project.
Art Thompson will share the spotlight with other Class of 2013 inductees who’ve bravely pioneered significant milestones in aerospace and aviation. Other notable inductees are Capt. Sullenberger, Co-Pilot Jeff Skiles and crew of US Airways Flight 1549, US Navy ace Dean “Diz” Laird, Apollo16, NASA’s Mission Control and WWII triple-ace Bud Anderson among others.
Computer fluid dynamics modeling of the Red Bull Stratos capsule in free fall: 156 fps (106 mph), minus 55 F, capsule door open, 2 degrees nose down, 80,000 feet in altitude.
Computer fluid dynamics modeling of the Red Bull Stratos capsule: 18 fps (under parachute), 50 degrees F, capsule door open, 2 degrees nose down,15,000 feet altitude.
The CFD analysis was done at Sage Cheshire using SolidWorks Computer Fluid Dynamics Software. SolidWorks was used to draft and design the Red Bull Stratos capsule, crush pad, life support and capsule electrical layout and deign. http://www.solidworks.com/
Lufthansa Cargo flies Felix Baumgartner’s Red Bull space capsule
“Stratos” space capsule leaves the Californian desert for Salzburg, Austria
From air freight to space freight – Lufthansa Cargo flew the Red Bull “Stratos” space capsule from Los Angeles to Frankfurt at the weekend. In October 2012, Austrian extreme sport legend Felix Baumgartner jumped out of this very capsule from a height of almost 128,000 feet. In collaboration with the “Schaefer Trans Inc.” transportation company, the flying machine was moved on a flat-bed trailer from the facility of the “Sage Cheshire Aerospace” manufacturer in the Californian desert to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The 1.45-tonne capsule was then reloaded onto a Boeing 777F of AeroLogic, a joint venture between Lufthansa Cargo and DHL Express.
Following the transatlantic flight to Frankfurt, the space capsule was reloaded onto a special flat-bed trailer and transported to Salzburg. The capsule and the spacesuit worn by Felix Baumgartner will be displayed alongside other flying machines and sports cars in Hangar-7, Red Bull’s own aircraft museum in Salzburg Airport, in the future.
The safe transport of the space capsule was the main concern of Arthur Thompson, Project Manager and CEO of manufacturer Sage Cheshire Aerospace. “The biggest challenge is getting such a big object to its destination in one piece”, explained Thompson. “Thanks to our many years of experience with vehicle prototypes built by us and shipped to Europe with Lufthansa Cargo, I know that the company is very well equipped to handle large, heavy and especially irreplaceable cargo.”
Austrian Felix Baumgartner ascended into the stratosphere in the space capsule on 14 October 2012 with the aid of a helium balloon. From a height of 24,214 miles, he free-fell towards the earth at speeds of up to 843.6 mph, setting multiple records in the process. Besides achieving the record for the highest altitude jump, Baumgartner was also the first person to break the sound barrier in a free fall. The jump was broadcast live on various media channels and on television worldwide and is considered one of the most successful marketing campaigns of all time.
Tommaso Sgobba, IAASS President; Art Thompson CEO Sage Cheshire Aerospace and Dr. Michael Hawes Director of Human Space Flight Programs, Lockheed Martin Corp. (sponsor of the 2013 Jerome Lederer Safety Pioneer Award)
The International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS) has awarded the 2013 Jerome Lederer Safety Pioneer Award to Art Thompson and the Red Bull Stratos team who made possible Felix Baumgartner’s recordbreaking stratospheric skydive in October 2012.
“Art Thompson and The Red Bull Stratos Team have substantially advanced the human knowledge and capability for using high altitude parachuting as a means for ensuring safe crew escape during at least part of a space mission and possibly one day ‘parachuting from space’ in case of emergencies,” explains IAASS President Tommaso Sgobba.
Art Thompson was Technical Project Director and the engineer behind the Red Bull Stratos capsule. Known for his creative approach to technical challenges, Thompson’s work has encompassed development of the B-2 stealth bomber for Northrop Corporation and design of the Batmobile for the film Batman & Robin. He co-founded Sage Cheshire Aerospace Inc., which took on the Red Bull Stratos challenge. The Red Bull Stratos team also includes space safety advocate and six-time NASA Space Shuttle crew surgeon Jonathan Clark who served as medical director for the undertaking, mentor and prior record holder Joe Kittinger, life support engineer Mike Todd, program manager and senior flight test engineer Marle Hewett, skydiving consultant Luke Aikins, and high performance director Andy Walshe.
The Jerome Lederer Space Safety Pioneer Award is awarded biennially to an individual or group who has made outstanding contributions in the field of space safety. The award consists of a solid silver handmade statuette reproducing the “Winged Victory,” or Nike (Greek for “victory”) of Samothrace, standing on a hemisphere representing the surface of Mars.
The award is named in honor of Jerome Lederer, an American aviation-safety pioneer. In 1947, Lederer organized the Flight Safety Foundation and was its director until 1967. In 1967, following the deaths of three astronauts at the Kennedy Space Center, NASA appointed Lederer director of the Office of Manned Space Flight Safety for the Apollo Program. In 1970, he became director of safety for all of NASA.
The award will be presented at the upcoming IAASS Conference Gala Dinner on May 22 in Montreal, Canada.
Red Bull Stratos: Space Jump YouTube
Red Bull Media House
Scott Bradfield, Werner Eksler, Charlie Rosene Senior Producers
Scott Gillies, Claude Ruibal Supervising Producers
Karin Bock-Leitert, Jochen Sterrer Producers
David Brooks, Tim Katz, Jay Nementh, Madeline Zeringue Director
Phil Olsman Associate Producers
Matthias Leister, Scott Lewers, Eileen O’Neil, Thomas Reidel, Robert Scanlon, Jacqueline Voss, Anna Wolferman Associate Director
Colonel Joseph Kittinger to Receive Henderson Award at June NAA Luncheon
From April-May 2013 The NAA Record
Colonel Joseph Kittinger, USAF, (Ret.) was selected to receive the 2013 Cliff Henderson Trophy, which will be presented to him at the NAA Luncheon on June 18, 2013 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia.
The Cliff Henderson Trophy, which resides at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, was established in 1960 by the National Aviation Club (now part of NAA) to honor the creator and Managing Director of the world-renowned National Air Races from 1928-1939. His work stimulated a generation’s interest in aviation and challenged the state of the art in aviation development.
In that spirit, the trophy is awarded to “. . .a living individual, group of individuals, or an organization whose vision, leadership or skill made a significant and lasting contribution to the promotion and advancement of aviation and aerospace in the United States.”
On August 16, 1960, Kittinger became an aviation pioneer with the “highest step in the world” when he made history as he ascended to 102,800 feet in a high-altitude balloon and jumped to Earth. During a distinguished Air Force career, Kittinger served as a test pilot, Squadron Commander, and Vice Wing Commander.
In addition, he spent 11 months as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. After retiring from the Air Force he set two world ballooning records and won numerous ballooning competitions. Kittinger is a NAA Elder Statesman of Aviation; was awarded a Lifetime Achievement in Aviation trophy from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum; was made an Honorary U.S. Army Golden Knight; and is enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the U.S. Ballooning Hall of Fame and the National Skydiving Museum Hall of Fame. To date, he has logged more than 16,800 hours of flying time in over 93 aircraft. His adventures are detailed in his autobiography, Come Up and Get Me.
Most recently, Colonel Kittinger served as Capsule Communications as Mission Control’s primary point of radio contact with Felix Baumgartner and the Red Bull Stratos Project. Click here to register for the June 18 NAA Luncheon where Kittinger will receive his award.
California Senator Steve Knight has been selected to serve as Chair of the Select Committee on Defense and Aerospace. He also introduced a Senate Concurrent Resolution to declare March 2013 as California Aerospace Month. Part of his immediate outreach was recognizing Sage Cheshire and the Red Bull Stratos team on their nomination for the Collier Trophy.
The Air Force Flight Test Museum located at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California is dedicated to preserving the exciting history of Edwards AFB and its magnificent flight test heritage. The museum’s exhibits and its extensive collection of aerospace vehicles are a testament to mankind’s leaps forward in aerospace exploration and the dedication of the brave souls who led the way.
On Saturday, May 18, Please Join the Flight Test Historical Foundation as they honor the The Red Bull Stratos Jump Team of Felix Baumgartner, Pilot, Col. Joe Kittinger, CAPCOM and Art Thompson, Project Director with 2013 Excellence in Aviation Award.
Even if you cannot attend the ceremony itself, please consider supporting the Air Force Flight Test Museum and its mission of showcasing this critical part of aviation history.
“On 14 October 2012 and supported by a team of experts from the Red Bull Stratos Mission, Felix took off from Roswell, USA, aboard a pressurised capsule attached to a helium balloon. Wearing a specially designed suit, Felix was carried high into the sky up to an altitude of 38969.4m, where he exited the capsule and launched himself down towards Earth. Felix achieved a freefall distance of 36402.6 m and reached the speed of 1357.6 km/h before opening his parachute and landing safely on the ground.”
“By achieving these world records, Felix adds his name to the list of FAI world record holders which includes such prestigious air sport personalities as Charles Lindbergh, Yuri Gagarin and, more recently, Bertrand Piccard and Steve Fossett.”
“The FAI congratulates Felix on this great achievement.”
Sub-class: G-2 (Performance Records)
Group: Speed Records
Type of record: Maximum Vertical Speed (without drogue)
Course/location: Roswell, NM (USA)
Performance: 1357,6 km/h
Parachutist: Felix Baumgartner (Austria)
Sub-class :G-2 (Performance Records)
Group: Altitude Records
Type of record: Exit Altitude
Course/location: Roswell, NM (USA)
Performance: 38969,4 meters
Parachutist: Felix Baumgartner (Austria)
Sub-class: G-2 (Performance Records)
Group: Altitude Records
Type of record: Vertical Distance of Freefall (without drogue)
Course/location: Roswell, NM (USA)
Performance: 36402.6 meters
Parachutist : Felix Baumgartner (Austria)
The Collier Trophy, the “Greatest Award in Aviation,” has been the benchmark of aviation and aerospace achievement for over 100 years. Awarded annually “… for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America,” it has been bestowed upon some of the most important projects, programs, individuals, and accomplishments in our nation’s history. Past winners include the crews of Apollo 11 and Apollo 8, the Mercury 7, Scott Crossfield, Elmer Sperry and Howard Hughes. Projects and programs which have been the recipient of the Collier include the B-52, the Polaris Missile, the Surveyor Moon Landing Program, the Boeing 747, the Cessna Citation, the Gulfstream V, the F-22 and the International Space Station. The 2011 Collier was awarded to the Boeing Company for the 787 Dreamliner.
The nominees are:
• The Lockheed Martin Cargo Unmanned Aerial System
• The NASA/JPL Dawn Project Team
• The Gulfstream G650
• The United States Air Force MC-12 Project Liberty Team
• The NASA/JPL Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity Project Team • Felix Baumgartner and the Red Bull Stratos Team
• The NASA/JPL Voyager Interstellar Mission Project Team
While not a popular vote you can help put the Stratos team over the top bycasting your vote on the Flying Magazine web site. We all held our breath that day in October. Confirm what the world already knows about team Stratos’ contribution to astronautics in 2012.
Red Bull Stratos started 52 years ago as a mission from one of the most respected men I know, Joe Kittinger, a true American hero and living legend and who I am very proud to call my friend. His achievement in aerospace led to a challenge to which so many would aspire. When my friend Felix Baumgartner requested that I assemble the team, design a program and flight test systems capable of reaching these goals, I gathered the best people I knew. These living legends were not only the best in their fields, they were my peers, associates and friends from so many other amazing programs and accomplishments. From multiple unique professional areas, they joined my call to advance aerospace technology and capture the imagination of the world while inspiring the next generation to see that anything is possible.
To the Stratos team, You have all become my associates on a truly fantastic journey. More importantly you are my family and my friends with whom I will be permanently forged together in time and history. Thank you Felix and Red Bull for helping us make history and for advancing medical and aerospace safety for future high-altitude manned flights. We have inspired the world and the next generation to understand that anything is possible if you have the will and determination to see the vision and the future. Wishing a happy and prosperous 2013 to the Red Bull Stratos, Sage Cheshire, Riedel, FlightLine Films, ATA-A, Wyle, Media House Family, and all who supported us over the years with our dreams and vision. I am blessed to have the opportunity to work with you all and look forward to our next adventure together.
When Felix Baumgartner set a parachuting world record for maximum vertical speed (breaking the sound barrier in the process) on October 14, 2012 from an altitude of 128,100 feet, he had behind him a team that was essential to this dramatic mission. For example, Retired Air Force Colonel Joe Kittinger, who made a jump in 1960 from 102,800 feet, was his adviser and radio link in the mission control center at Roswell Airport.
Project leader Art Thompson organized a bevy of highly qualified organizations and individuals that built and tested equipment such as the balloon, capsule and spacesuit designed to withstand the rigors of an altitude that no human had ever experienced. Meteorologists monitored and predicted the weather, the flight path and landing zone. Experts from the Air Force conducted the balloon launch, and a medical team was on hand to provide medical care and collect data that will benefit futurespace exploration.
Another critical person operating behind the scenes was Brian Utley, a member of the NAA Contest and Records Board, who served as the official observer of Baumgartner’s skydive on behalf of both NAA and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), which certifies the world record.
Utley is an experienced observer who has overseen dozens of national and world aeronautic records. His role in planning the measurement and certification of this record began three years ago, which was two years before the flights began. “Early in the game Felix said he wanted to be the person to break the sound barrier,” he recalled, and his team worked tirelessly toward that goal.
There were five separate launches – the first two were unmanned to test the balloon, capsule, and operational readiness and to ensure the safety of the launches. “We learned something from each of these,” Utley said. “It allowed me to become much more proficient in evaluating the data and systems as we went along.” These were followed by two record-setting jumps earlier this year in March and July before the final jump in October.
“We accumulated enough data on his body drag from the first two jumps to be able to simulate what velocity he would attain on his free fall,” he explained. The preliminary data from the record-setting skydive indicates that Baumgartner broke the speed of sound at 672 mph at 111,000 ft. He reached his maximum speed of 834 mph at 92,550 which is 1.24 times the speed of sound. Utley pointed out that the speed of sound varies by temperature; at sea level it is approximately 760 mph, but as you rise through the atmosphere and the temperature gets much colder, the speed of sound decreases. For example at -70 degrees centigrade, the speed of sound is 645 mph – a difference of more than 100 mph.
Utley combined two measurements to calculate the data. The first is measurements made by a helium weather balloon that rose to 130,000 feet and radioed the temperature and wind speed as it climbed through the atmosphere, giving him a picture of the temperature all the way up plus being able to predict the drift and landing zone. Second, Baumgartner carried a chest pack with a GPS instrument that gave Utley his precise altitude and direction. It also calibrated time according to Greenwich Mean Time, allowing Utley to create a picture in three dimensions against the time clock and measure the fall as he accelerated second by second.
“There were three times in this flight that I consider the most dramatic,” Utley said. “The first was when the balloon was released and began to float up into the sky. The second is when Felix was standing on the step of the capsule getting ready to jump. It is so high he could see the curvature of the earth and know that there is nothing other than the atmosphere to slow him down as he fell. The third dramatic moment was seeing his parachute open; when we realized it was the main chute with the red side bars and not the plain white emergency chute, we knew Felix had deployed the parachute himself and was safe.”
Utley added, however, that “there are always some problems as you go along – nothing is ever perfect. We had the benefit of having more than one GPS recording device, which allowed me to fill in some gaps in the recording. For example, when he tumbles, the GPS receiver attached to the back of his helmet loses contact with the satellite.”
At one point during the jump, Baumgartner entered into a dangerous flat spin at a rate of one rotation per second. He did 16 rotations before recovering. “One thing the designers did was mount the chest pack as high on his chest as possible,” Utley noted. “This moved the center of gravity closer to his head so that it reduced the g-forces on his head which, fortunately, were not high enough for him to black out.”
Utley was in the retrieve helicopter in order to insure the integrity of the flight data and was among the first to greet Baumgartner when he landed. He witnessed Baumgartner raise his arms in thanks for a successful jump and reports that Baumgartner, when asked if he would do it again, said he “would be happy to go back to just being an ordinary helicopter pilot.”
NAA recognized Brian’s remarkable contributions recently at its Fall Awards Banquet when Contest and Records Director, Art Greenfield, presented him with NAA’s Certificate of Honor.
Teaching kids to dream about and visualize great things is the goal of Sage Cheshire’s Art Thompson who, with a team of the world’s best minds, recently set new aerospace records with Red Bull Stratos, a mission to the edge of space.
The students and faculty of Brighton Hall, a K-12 college prep for young professionals, were the beneficiary of a master class on creativity in the context of aerospace on Wednesday. Art Thompson and Mike Todd presented an overview of Red Bull Stratos, a scientific mission to the edge of space.
The goal of the Stratos program was to understand human survivability outside of pressurized air- or spacecraft using vintage and modern technology. Taking people beyond the Armstrong line of about 62,000 vertical feet above the earth is a very tricky business due to the tendency of human blood to boil at and beyond that altitude without a pressure chamber.
The Stratos team learned many things during the mission, data that will be shared with NASA and others who dare to explore near space and beyond. A pressurized suit is necessary equipment to explore those environs and on display for students and faculty to examine was the actual suit Felix Baumgartner wore when he jumped from an altitude of more than 127,000 feet.
Stratos’ Life Support EngineerMike Todd explained the reasons for this special suit and how it differed from other types of pressure suits used in aircraft. Since the mission involved a free-falling human, unique considerations had to be made in the construction, engineering and materials.
Art Thompson, Vice President of Sage Cheshire Aerospace which was the prime contractor for Red Bull Stratos, showed images and video from the mission to a rapt audience. He also spoke about the creative process from concept to execution to help those who dare to dream.
About a hundred students, parents and faculty attended the presentation. This is one lucky group to have been able to see the actual suit in which new records were set in the manned exploration of space.
Salzburg (AUSTRIA) — “We think the sonic boom happened not as he went in to the sound barrier but when he slowed back down, said Dr. Jonathan Clark, the mission’s medical director and formerly a six-time Space Shuttle Crew Surgeon. “We hear the Shuttle when it comes back through the sound barrier; it makes the same noise. And so although this was quieter, when four teams on the ground in New Mexico, including expert personnel, all heard it, we knew that – no question – he broke the sound barrier.”
The team is analyzing the recording, including use of an algorithm typically employed by NASA, to precisely determine where the sonic boom occurred. But in the meantime, technical project director Art Thompson confirmed, “Having reached an estimated Mach 1.24, Felix is now definitely the fastest man on earth.”
While Baumgartner himself explained that he didn’t feel the shockwave as he passed through the speed of sound, Clark acknowledged that the team experienced some anxious moments, especially when Baumgartner went into a spin – which early analysis suggests lasted some 40 seconds before the 43-year-old managed to straighten out using skills trained over hundreds of simulations. “Felix was maximally prepared to deal with the spin, and he fully understood that the essence of the mission was a flight test program,” Clark noted. “We were concerned, but we were all prepared. Felix endured an incredible feat, and the essence of the program was his ability to go through the sound barrier and recover from the spin.”
Life support engineer Mike Todd agreed, “Felix started this program as a BASE jumper and skydiver and ended as a test pilot – he was the perfect guy for the job.” Clark also remarked, “For somebody to jump from near space and survive the transition through the sound barrier had never been done before, and this has contributed immensely to the survival advancements for future spacecraft. Already a lot of companies are talking about: What did we learn? How soon can we get this information? And so this is going to make a substantial difference. It was a true aviation milestone.”
Thompson added, “The fact that it was a flight test program was why we were able to assemble this leading team of experts to develop the mission; it was about science and learning – the process of saving people’s lives. We will analyze this data for months, if not years, to come. All of this furthers the future of aerospace – and from the reactions we’ve been seeing, it has also inspired a lot of young people to think about a career in aerospace or engineering: that’s really close to my heart.”
Sage Cheshire’s Art Thompson went on, “Our suit and capsule were safety devices that provided full life support of the kind that could be valuable if an aircraft has a breach in its hull. For safety, even our backup systems had backup systems. There is a lot of interest from NASA and the Air Force in the results.”
Noting that his parachute system was another important component that would have saved him even in the event of unconsciousness, Baumgartner said, “During the last five years, the team has concentrated on developing equipment and procedures for safety in what is essentially a bailout situation. I am going to stop now with BASE jumping because I have closed that chapter, but at the same time we have opened a new door for the safety of manned flight into space.”
The athlete, who the night before had joined the entire mission team for a two-hour live television special that recapped the historic achievement, noted that he is preparing to enter a new phase of his life as a helicopter pilot — a profession he’s dreamed of since childhood and for which he’s already licensed. “You need challenges, a reason to get up in the morning, and I will be flying mountain rescues,” he commented. “It will be interesting and I will still be in the air.”
Baumgartner is also preparing to take on a previously unforeseen role, as last week United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited him to become a youth ambassador for the organization. “In the next weeks I will process what has happened and work with the United Nations to find out how I can play a role,” Baumgartner said. “I would love to have kids of my own someday, but in the meantime it would be wonderful to work with children around the world.”
“My advice to Felix as he moves on is to take advantage of this opportunity to be an Ambassador for the UN and encourage the youth of the world,” said Col. Joe Kittinger, the mentor who held the records Baumgartner broke in New Mexico. Looking around at a team that besides Clark, Thompson, and Todd also included high performance director Andy Walshe and skydiving consultant Luke Aikins, Kittinger stated, “As for the rest of us, I am sure we will all look for other challenges, but we will never have one as exciting as Red Bull Stratos.”
“I’ll probably feel the most anxious when I’m trying to sleep in the hours before I start getting ready – when everything’s quiet and it’s just me and my thoughts.” – Felix Baumgartner’s thoughts as he gets closer to launch time.
Here’s the plan leading up to launch time:
Launch Minus 24 Hours: Baumgartner will start the day before the jump with a light cardio-based workout, mostly to “relax and loosen up,” according to Red Bull High Performance Director Andy Walshe.
Minus 18h30: The 43-year-old Austrian will return to his hotel to rest up. If he’s not ready to nap, Baumgartner can pass the time talking with his close friends and family, reading messages of support that have been pouring in from around the globe, drawing in his sketchbook – a pastime that he says helps to clear his mind – or mentally reviewing his checklists for the mission.
Minus 13h30: Baumgartner will join members of the crew for a light early dinner, but the food on his plate will be unique. For at least 24 hours before his jump, he must stick to a low-fiber diet prescribed by the mission’s medical team. It is vital for him to eat only foods that will clear his system quickly, without leaving residue that could create gas: a condition that can cause problems in the low-pressure of the stratosphere because it can expand in the body and cause serious discomfort.
Minus 12h00: Baumgartner will attempt to get to sleep early – before the sun has even set. He’ll try to eliminate every glimmer of outside light and shut out the noise of circulation fans or other guests in the halls. It is essential that he try to get some sleep before his pre-dawn wake-up call, even though he will certainly be wondering what he’ll experience in his attempt to become the first person to break the speed of sound in freefall.
Minus 4h30: “When I need to ready, I’m always ready,” Baumgartner often says. And while he will try to sleep as long as possible, he’ll need to rise four to five hours before dawn to be ready for the intense day ahead.
Minus 3h30: Baumgartner will arrive at the launch site, accompanied by Walshe. Mission team leaders including Col. Joe Kittinger, Technical Project Director Art Thompson, and Meteorologist Don Day will provide a personal briefing on the launch preparations so far, which will have been underway for five hours.
Minus 4h00: Baumgartner will head to the runway where, as is habitual for the experienced pilot before every flight, he will conduct a meticulous inspection of the capsule.
Minus 2h30: In Baumgartner’s personal trailer, he will undergo a final medical check, and a compact, state-of-the-art physiological monitoring system will be strapped to his chest to be worn under his pressure suit throughout the mission.
Minus 2h00: Life Support Engineer Mike Todd will dress Baumgartner in his suit, a painstaking process, and the Austrian will ‘pre-breathe’ oxygen for two hours to eliminate nitrogen from his bloodstream, which could expand dangerously at altitude. Videos will help pass the time as he awaits the announcement that his balloon inflation has begun and he can move to the capsule.
Minus 0h30: Baumgartner will be strapped into his capsule chair to conduct final instrument checks as directed by Mission Control. Then Capsule Engineer Jon Wells will seal the clear acrylic door. For a several more long minutes of anticipation, Baumgartner will await countdown and, finally, launch.
Advanced high-definition cinematography cameras will beam real-time images of Felix Baumgartner’s every move in the Red Bull Stratos space capsule, providing interior and exterior points of view during the mission. And when Felix jumps, he’ll be wearing five high-definition cameras, giving you the feeling you’re right there with him in the descent.
In addition to documenting the record-breaking jump Felix’s experience will also be captured by powerful long-range and infrared cameras on the ground, as well as by a helicopter hovering near his flight path. The live stream of Felix’s jump will be available on redbullstratos.com, on partner sites and carried by more than 50 TV and Internet channels around the globe, in advance of a BBC documentary this fall.
Jay Nemeth (FlightLine Films), the mission’s director of high-altitude photography, and his team have been working to meet the challenges of the lethal stratosphere for the last five years. The Red Bull Stratos capsule and Baumgartner’s pressure suit have more HD cameras than most 45-foot TV production trucks. “We have basically created a flying video production studio,” Nemeth said.
Who ensures secure signals from the capsule back to earth? Riedel Communications, renowned for its advanced fiber, intercom and radio technology – provides the entire communications solution for the mission, integrating both wireless and wired digital intercom systems. Riedel furnishes the fiber-based video and signal distribution as well as the wireless video links to the capsule’s onboard cameras – enabling stunning pictures to be delivered from the Red Bull Stratos capsule to ground control.
Tags: Red Bull Stratos, FlightLine Films, Riedel Communications
Wednesday morning, July 25, at 8:12 Mountain time, Red Bull Stratos jumper Felix Baumgartner exited a stratospheric balloon from approximately 97,000 feet for a freefall of 3 minutes 55 seconds. He reached an unofficial speed of 536 mph before deploying his parachute at approximately 13,000 feet above sea level, 8,000 feet above the desert southwest of Roswell, New Mexico.
USPA Director of Competition Jim Hayhurst and the National Aeronautic Association’s Brian Utley served as official observers. Pending analysis of GPS data, the Stratos team may potentially claim three new Fédération Aéronautique Internationale world records. Two are almost 50 years old, both held by Major Yevgeny N. Andreyev of the Soviet Union, who in 1962 jumped from a balloon gondola 83,529 feet above sea level, freefalling 80,380 feet before deploying his parachute. Baumgartner’s jump has potentially eclipsed both Andreyev’s records, as well as his own vertical speed record of 365 mph, which he achieved on the first Stratos jump in March. Unfortunately, the Stratos capsule sustained damage on landing, potentially delaying the third and final Stratos jump, planned for 120,000 feet to break Joe Kittinger’s historic mark of 102,800 feet, set in 1960.
Felix Baumgartner successfully jumped from 18 miles / 29 kilometres above the Earth 97,063 feet / 29,584 meters, freefalling as fast as a commercial airliner – 536 miles or 864 kilometres per hour (latest figures sanctioned by USPA and NAA). This jump was a significant achievement in ballooning history but it also proved that safety and recovery systems are functional in preparation for the 120,000 feet attempt.
In March of this year, Felix completed the first manned jump, a culmination of testing equipment, the team, and the procedures together under real flight conditions. Felix is only the third person to have ever jumped from 71,615 ft. Although, this won’t be his highest freefall attempt, it’s high enough to verify the functionality of the pressurized space suit and the capsule’s abilities.
This stems from five years of testing and intensive work. The effort takes more than 100 expert personnel who have been building and creating one-of-a-kind technology, and sometimes coming together from across the world.
Data from the International Air Sports Federation (FAI) shows how the 1st manned test measured up.
Altitude reached: 71,615.2 ft / 21,828.3 meters
Parachute opened at: 8,210.6 ft / 2,502.6 meters
Freefall time: 3 minutes and 40 seconds
The fastest ascent rate of the capsule: 1,200 feet per minute (estimate)
Speed reached in freefall: 364.69 mph / 586.92 km per hour
We are airborne! Felix is on his way up inside a pressurized space capsule to 90,000 ft under the lift of a helium-filled balloon. His ascent rate will be approximately 1,000 ft per minute. Have questions about the mission? Send to email@example.com
If it’s not a thunderstorm, it’s wind. This morning the team attempted to launch its high altitude balloon with Felix but the wind was just too strong. As with any balloon flight, the weather conditions must be ideal; and in this case that means winds less than 5 mph. The 5.3 million cubic foot balloon that will be used for the 2nd manned flight stands 342 ft tall. Although strong, the balloon can be damaged by shearing winds. For safety’s sake, the team could not take any chances. Another attempt will be made when conditions look promising.
The storm wins every time. Today’s test jump attempt to 90,000’ was scratched as thunderstorms started overtaking Roswell, NM. The team planned to launch Felix for its second manned test flight this morning, but weather conditions were not cooperating for a high altitude balloon launch. Instability in the atmosphere, clouds, and lightning all contributed. Learn more about the elements that must be considered for launch. The top picture shows the team carefully holding the specialized balloon as the decision was made to stop action due to thunderstorms.
Day 2 on the road with FlightLine Films. What does it take to get two enormous optical tracking systems and cameras to the Red Bull Stratos mission in Roswell, NM? Three trucks, one tough Humvee, and 2 full days of driving.
Destination: Roswell, NM. Getting there might be half the challenge. Join me on the road with FlightLine Films for a nearly 800 mile trip. You won’t believe what it takes to get the caravan of crew, huge optical tracking equipment and cameras to the Red Bull Stratos mission…and we’re just getting started.
After a few false starts, the plane was towed into the sky above the Sonoran desert on Wednesday afternoon by a Sikorsky S58T helicopter.
The design team was hoping to get the monster paper airplane up to 4,000 or 5,000 feet before letting it loose, but due to wind conditions, the helicopter pilot decided to set it free at 2,703 feet.
It was still able to glide at speeds of close to 100 mph for 7 to 10 seconds before stress on the tail caused it to hurdle to the ground.
“It didn’t fare too well as an end game,” Tim Vimmerstedt, a spokesperson for the Pima Air & Space Museum told The Times. “It really is a crumbled mess.”
The plane was constructed of layers of falcon board, which Vimmerstedt described as a type of corrugated cardboard, similar to a pizza box.
The plane was designed and built in Lancaster by Art Thompson, who helped design the B-2 stealth bomber, but the design was based on a paper airplane folded by 12-year-old Tucson resident Arturo Valdenegro—winner of a paper airplane fly-off sponsored by the Pima Air & Space Museum in January.
In a video interview with the museum on the day of the launch, Valdenegro said before the Great Paper Airplane Project he thought that he might puruse a career in engineering, but after meeting Thompson and seeing his plane realized in giant size, he now knows he’s going to be an engineer when he grows up.
For the musuem, that’s the real mission accomplished.
Red Bull Stratos Manned Test Jump from 71,581 Feet
The 71,581-foot manned test jump marked the first test of the balloon, capsule and pilot – Felix Baumgartner – in flight.
Preliminary Statistics (currently under review for verification by the Fédéeration Aéronautique Internationale):
Launch time and location: March 15, 2012, 08:10 a.m., at Roswell, New Mexico, USA
- Baumgartner jumped from the capsule at an altitude of: 71,581 feet
- The balloon and capsule took one hour and 34 minutes to complete the ascent
- Baumgartner accelerated to a maximum speed of 364.4 mph
- He spent 3 minutes and 33 seconds) in freefall before pulling his parachute at 7,890 feet
- The pilot landed safely in the desert at 09:50 a.m., about 30 miles from the original launch site
Significance of 71,581 feet
The height was selected for the first manned test because it provides a genuine stratospheric experience beyond the Armstrong Line – the region beginning around 63,000ft where the atmospheric pressure is so low that bodily fluids start to ‘boil’ at the normal temperature of a human body (98.6 °F).
The test was conducted at Roswell, New Mexico, so as to rehearse the launch procedure at the same site selected for the final jump from 120,000ft. The region boasts excellent weather conditions and availability of leading-edge launch resources.
The previous evening the Red Bull Stratos team received final safety and weather briefings. Meteorologist Don Day gave the go-ahead that the dawn ‘weather window’ was suitable for an attempted launch: relatively clear skies and calm winds
During the next eight hours, the capsule was positioned in its cradle on the launch crane, the runway cleared of small debris and the balloon laid out on a vast tarp to protect it from tearing
The balloon itself, with a capacity of 1.22 million cubic feet, was significantly smaller than the final mission balloon as it was required to a lower altitude. It weighed 937lbs
Shortly before dawn, balloon inflation began
Baumgartner was suited up and began pre-breathing oxygen to eliminate nitrogen from his blood before he was sealed inside the pressurized capsule
With balloon inflation complete, the capsule lifted off the tarmac to begin its ascent
As expected, the decrease in air pressure as the balloon ascended caused the helium in the balloon to expand to its fully inflated dimensions of 127 feet high and 142 feet in diameter
Once the ascent was completed, Felix ran through his 39-step safety checklist before manually depressurizing the capsule, sliding open the round door and stepping off the external platform
Baumgartner continued in freefall until he reached the optimum height to deploy his parachute and float safely back to earth
Upon landing he was met by the retrieval team, medical checks were conducted, and he was returned to the launch site via helicopter
Once he had been safely retrieved, Mission Control triggered the release of the capsule from the balloon, and both returned slowly to Earth to be collected by the recovery team for evaluation
Although 71,581 feet is a stepping-stone to Felix’s final target altitude, the test presented numerous challenges. The normal ceiling for skydiving is less than 15,000 feet.
Rapid acceleration and high speed while in freefall – Felix had to ensure he did not go into an uncontrollable spin during freefall
Crash impact in the capsule – the first thousand feet of ascent were critical because if the balloon had failed, neither the capsule nor Felix’s personal parachute would have had time to deploy effectively
Lack of oxygen – during the majority of the trajectory, the surrounding environment contained too little oxygen to sustain human life
Low pressure – without the pressurization provided by the capsule and suit, Felix may have experience life-threatening decompression sickness
Low temperatures – the temperatures Felix experienced in the stratosphere were as cold as anything he’s likely to encounter in his final jump: down to minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit
Art Thompson possesses more than 30 years of experience in innovating leading-edge design that has produced major breakthroughs in aerospace history, including development of the B-2 “Stealth” bomber.
As technical project director for Red Bull Stratos, Art drives engineering program management and has also been responsible for selecting and assembling the global mission team and securing equipment and facilities. He is Felix Baumgartner’s right-hand man and earliest collaborator.
A California native, Art studied engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles and also attended the University of La Verne and Northrop University. While working for Northrop Corporation in the late 1970s, he and a small contingent of engineers (working under Dr. John Cashen and Fred Oshira and using an original design concept by Irv Waaland) brainstormed ideas and methods for military aircraft that could avoid radar detection. The Northrop team went from drawing napkin sketches and conceptualizing ideas and shapes to conceiving the design that the Department of Defense chose to develop into the B-2 Spirit.
Today Art is vice president of Sage Cheshire Aerospace, Inc. which he co-founded in Lancaster, California, more than 10 years ago. The company provides solutions for a complete range of aerospace needs, from initial design and engineering to finished product, with an experienced team of professionals hand-picked by Art himself.
Art is instrumental in coordinating the efforts of the global mission team to meet all production, testing and implementation milestones. Further, his Sage Cheshire crew is responsible for the design, construction and testing of Felix’s capsule, and the facility serves as the hub of mission technological development overall.
Type: The balloon is filled with helium to create lift. Helium is non-flammable, non-toxic if vented to the atmosphere and a safe, predictable method of ascent.
Material: It is constructed of strips of high-performance polyethylene (plastic) film that is only 0.0008 inches thick. In total, these strips would cover 40 acres if they were laid flat. Polyester-fibre reinforced load tapes are incorporated to do the weight bearing.
Size, volume and shape: The balloon for Felix’s mission from the edge of space will be nearly 30 million cubic feet in capacity – 10 times larger than Joe Kittinger’s balloon in 1960.
At launch, it will be tall and thin, stretching 55 stories high. As the balloon ascends, the helium will expand and the balloon will slowly fill out to an almost completely round shape:
- Length of uninflated balloon before launch: 592.41 feet
- Height of balloon at take-off: 550 feet
- The height from the top of the balloon to bottom of the capsule will be: 695 feet
- Size of balloon at 120,000 feet: Height 334.82 feet / Diameter: 424.37 feet
Weight: The uninflated balloon weighs 3,708 pounds
INFLATION AND LAUNCH INFRASTRUCTURE
Helium is delivered on two large trucks. Another truck with a “launch arm” restraint holds down a portion of the balloon during inflation. At launch, the arm moves out of the way to allow the balloon to ascend. Simultaneously, a large crane drives in to position the capsule under the balloon. The crane releases the capsule, the balloon lifts it off the crane, and the ascent begins.
Was the balloon specially developed for the Red Bull Stratos mission?
The balloon is a standard design utilizing principles and materials that have been refined over 60 years of high-altitude scientific balloon flights.
Are there hazards associated with helium balloon flight?
Balloons are susceptible to wind, which can literally tear them – particularly at critical times.
- Take-off, when difficulties due to weather or other factors could drag the capsule across the ground or cause a sudden dangerous drop in height. If a problem occurred below 1,000 feet, there would not be enough time to deploy a personal or capsule parachute.
- Ascent through the troposphere (30,000 to 60,000 feet), where turbulence is common.
- Float altitude (top altitude), where low air pressure will cause the helium to expand so much that if the excess cannot escape through the balloon’s vent tubes, it will burst. Helium inflation quantities are carefully calculated to avoid this.
How long does it take to inflate the balloon?
The overall launch process for this kind of balloon requires approximately 8 hours of preparation immediately before launch, including about 45 to 60 minutes for insertion of the helium.
How big is the launch crew?
The balloon launch crew itself is about 12 to 15 people, all of whom must wear clothing that won’t snag the balloon. A number of individuals will clear the runway of fine debris before laying out the balloon. Fewer than 10 people actually handle the balloon, and those who do wear cotton gloves.
Why does a helium balloon rise?
Helium is lighter than air. If the balloon is large enough in relation to the weight of its payload, the helium will ascend and bring the payload with it.
How fast will the balloon ascend?
The balloon will ascend at about 1,000 meters per minute. At some points, its ascent could be as fast as 1,400 feet per minute. Upon reaching about 100,000 feet, however, it will likely slow to roughly 750 feet per minute until it levels off at approximately 120,000 feet above sea level.
How is the balloon steered?
Wind is used to direct a balloon’s trajectory. Wind speed and direction vary at different altitudes so balloons are steered by changing altitude to reach the desired wind conditions. Releasing helium causes a decrease in altitude, while dropping ballast allows a balloon to rise.
How does the balloon avoid other aircraft in the sky?
The balloon will be tracked by the mission team while in the air. The mission team coordinates closely with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to obtain clearance for flight and special reflective tape is incorporated into the seams so that it can be seen on radar.
Felix’s target altitude is described as “float altitude.” What is that?
Float altitude is the point at which the balloon levels off and stops ascending. Although helium is lighter than air, at higher altitudes air density is reduced. Float altitude is reached when the average density of the balloon is the same as the density of the surrounding atmosphere.
What happens to the balloon after Felix jumps?
After Felix has landed, Mission Control will trigger the separation of the capsule and balloon, so that the capsule can descend under its parachute. A nylon “destruct line” will release the helium so that the balloon returns to Earth. Then, the team will gather the envelope into a large truck, a process that can take several hours.
Is the same balloon being used repeatedly for tests, as well as the final mission?
No. The test balloons are smaller than the almost 30 million cubic foot balloon used for the ascent to 120,000 feet. None of these delicate balloons can be re-used. In fact, once Felix’s balloon is even taken out of its box it must be launched promptly or discarded.
Who is responsible for launching the balloon?
ATA Aerospace provides the balloon launch services, personnel and equipment for Red Bull Stratos. Key personnel on the ATA team include crew chief Ed Coca, meteorologist Don Dayand project lead Tracy Gerber. A joint venture of Albuquerque-based Applied Technology Associates and ASRC Aerospace, ATA Aerospace offers the expertise of an extensive history in large-scale balloon launches, including serving as the prime contractor on the AFRL Space Technology Research, Analysis, Integration and Test (STRAIT) contract. On this contract, ATA Aerospace provides the program management; engineering services; integration, test, and launch support; on-orbit support; and test facility operations and management for satellite and high-altitude systems and subsystems including buses and payloads. For more information:www.aptec.com
The best weather conditions for balloon launch usually occur at dawn. Here is an approximate timeline.
Launch minus 8 hours
After a weather and safety briefing, the team inspects the equipment and communications systems, then pulls the boxed balloon and equipment out of the hangar while a separate crew works to clear the runway of dirt, debris and other objects. The capsule and balloon are delivered to the launch area on a cleared runway. More checks and re-verifications are conducted.
Launch minus 4:30 hours
Crew Chief contacts Mission Control for permission to lay out the flight train components. Balloon is laid out on a layer of Herculite. Then balloon, parachute and capsule are connected.
Launch minus 2:45 hours
Layout of flight train is complete.
Launch minus 2:15 hours
Balloon’s helium valves are rechecked and verified.
Launch minus 1:15 hours
All capsule checks are complete.
Launch minus 1:00 hours
Crew chief contacts meteorologist and requests permission to begin inflation.
Launch minus 0:55 hours Inflation begins.
Launch minus 0:30 hours
Felix is sealed in capsule which is cradled on a crane and pressurization begins.
Launch minus 0:10 hours
Inflation is complete.
Launch minus 0:05 hours
Crew chief inspects the entire flight train and removes all safety restraints
Launch minus 0:01 hours
Balloon bubble is released from launch arm.
As the balloon rises, the crane bearing the capsule drives rapidly down the runway to meet it. The crane releases the capsule when it’s vertical with the balloon. The balloon lifts the capsule off the crane and the ascent begins.
Austria’s Felix Baumgartner jumped out of a space capsule from an altitude of approximately 71,580 feet as the Red Bull Stratos project moved forward into the manned flight stage in New Mexico. The 42-year-old rode the space capsule attached to a giant helium balloon above the so-called “Armstrong Line.”
ROSWELL (New Mexico) – At precisely 9:50 a.m., Felix Baumgartner landed with his parachute in the New Mexico desert nearly 30 miles away from Roswell, wearing a spacesuit as he safely completed a journey towards the edge of space. Just 1 hour and 40 minutes earlier the extreme athlete from Austria had lifted off from Roswell on board a space capsule attached to a 165-foot-high helium balloon that brought him to an altitude of nearly 71,580 feet.
The goal of this expedition towards the edge of space was to fly over the so-called “Armstrong Line” and to do tests under real conditions for the first time. That is the area in aerospace where earthly boundaries and laws disappear. It is an inhospitable region for humans where liquids begin to vaporize and temperatures plunge to minus 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Humans could not survive in this zone without a spacesuit to protect them from the forces of depressurization and lack of oxygen. To get there, Baumgartner first had to make it through another “death zone” closer to earth. During the first 1,000 feet of his ascent there would be no chance of escape in the event of a crash because there would be no time to get out of the capsule or open the parachute.
The ascent and his exit from the capsule went exactly as planned. Baumgartner plunged back towards earth at a speed of nearly 365 miles per hour. He said later the most difficult part was the extreme cold he encountered. “I could hardly move my hands. We’re going to have to do some work on that aspect,” he said. The Austrian added that he also needs to work on getting accustomed to the extraordinary dimensions of space. “I wanted to open the parachute after descending for a while, but I noticed that I was still at an altitude of 50,000 feet,” he said.
Even though it was only a test jump for his forthcoming leap from an altitude of nearly 23 miles, Baumgartner still managed to make it into the record books. He became only the third person to leap from that altitude and survive. The only people to successfully jump from greater heights were Russia’s Eugene Andreev and American Joseph Kittinger, both of whom accomplished their feats in the 1960s. Kittinger, a living legend now 83 years old, is serving as a mentor for the Red Bull Stratos project and was heading Baumgartner’s test flight from Mission Control in Roswell. Kittinger is on the team of nearly 100 top experts recruited from the fields of science, medicine and aerospace for the mission. Technical director Art Thompson was involved with the construction of the Stealth Bomber, and medical director Dr. Jon Clark served as the crew surgeon for six Space Shuttle flights.
The test demonstrated that not only did the capsule system function exactly as planned, but the giant stratospheric balloon did as well, as balloon launch director Ed Coca confirmed. The delicate giant, which was inflated with helium in the early morning hours, was remotely deflated after Baumgartner’s descent, exactly as planned. The space capsule that Baumgartner had been riding in was detached from the balloon with an explosive device, descended under a parachute and later landed undamaged in the desert.
“This test serves as the perfect motivation for the team for the next step,” said Baumgartner, flashing a wide smile after two previous attempts to launch the test earlier this week had to be scrubbed. The conditions in the New Mexico desert will be too windy in the weeks ahead, making it impossible to launch this kind of balloon. After the seasonally windy conditions pass, there will be another test from the altitude of 90,000 feet before Baumgartner and the team will attempt to break the record later this year.
BBC Documentary: An exclusive, all-access documentary about the Red Bull Stratos project is being produced by the BBC together with National Geographic. The feature-length film will premiere on the BBC in the UK and National Geographic Channel in the US following the jump. It will be aired across the rest of the world soon after. The 90-minute documentary about Red Bull Stratos is being globally licensed and distributed to broadcasters by BBC Worldwide. Broadcasters interested in the BBC documentary should visit www.bbcworldwide.com for more details.
The Red Bull Stratos science team has confirmed that the capsule delivering Austrian sportsman Felix Baumgartner to the edge of space for his record-breaking freefall attempt is mission ready. Attached to a helium balloon, the capsule – which took five years to develop and weighs 2,900 pounds fully loaded – will act as Baumgartner’s life support system during his nearly three-hour ascent to 120,000 feet.
ROSWELL, New Mexico (United States) – Strapped into a chair custom made for his space suit, he’ll face a control panel of 89 switches and one clear round door. While that door gives Baumgartner the best view in the stratosphere, it also puts just half an inch of acrylic between him and the edge of space. When he rolls it open 23 miles above the Earth, he will exit and attempt to become the first person to break the speed of sound in freefall.
Suspended 150 feet below a balloon, the capsule will protect Baumgartner from stratospheric temperatures reaching minus 70 Fahrenheit and offer a stable oxygenated and pressurized environment during the ascent so he has air to breathe and can avoid decompression sickness. The craft will also act as a stable base for his step-off into freefall.
The hostile environment presents a daunting challenge to the electronics, radio communications and camera systems vital to the capsule’s operation. Led by Art Thompson, the mission’s technical project director, the craft was designed and hand-constructed at Sage Cheshire Aerospace, Inc. in Lancaster, California. Leading minds in aerospace engineering collaborated to produce a vessel capable of completing its mission as well as capturing valuable scientific data to advance aerospace research.
Once the capsule has completed its ascent and Baumgartner has safely accomplished his mission, a remote triggering system will release the craft from the balloon. Tracked via a GPS system, a recovery parachute will bring the capsule slowly back to Earth, where the data can be extracted and evaluated.
The mission’s science team opted for a sealed capsule instead of a gondola used by the current record holder, Joe Kittinger, when he jumped from a height of 102,800 feet in 1960. The additional altitude of the Red Bull Stratos mission means that there are exponentially greater hazards from exposure to freezing temperatures, oxygen deprivation and low air pressure. The sealed capsule will protect Baumgartner. He will inflate his pressure suit only as he prepares to exit the craft.
The capsule testing program included initial evaluations at Sage Cheshire Aerospace, followed by a 2011 altitude chamber test verifying the vessel’s integrity in a real-time flight simulation to jump altitude. Following a final phase of egress training, Art Thompson confirmed that the capsule is ready to fly.
The capsule’s design incorporates four key components: the pressure sphere, the cage, the shell and the base with crush pads.
The pressure sphere, with a diameter of 6 feet, contains the flight control panel and instrumentation and is where Baumgartner will be seated during the ascent. It is molded from fiberglass and epoxy, while the door and windows are made of acrylic. The pressure sphere’s interior will be pressurized to 8 pounds per square inch (psi), the equivalent of 16,000 feet above sea level, to reduce the risk of decompression sickness during the ascent without requiring Felix to inflate his pressure suit.
The cage surrounds the pressure sphere and supports the capsule overall. It was made by welding together Chrome-Moly (chromium molybdenum) aircraft tubing/pipes, a strong steel alloy frequently used in motorsports and aerospace industries. The cage frame is the point at which the capsule attaches to the balloon and will bear the load for the parachute system and capsule touchdown.
The external shell, 11 feet high and 8 feet in diameter at its base, surrounds the pressure sphere and cage. It is a foam-insulated skin covered in fiberglass that provides protection and insulation against temperatures that may reach – 70 Fahrenheit or lower.
Base and crush pads
The 8-foot-diameter base comprises of a 2-inch thick aluminum honeycomb panel which protects the capsule from sharp objects during landing and provides a mounting for the balloon system control box and batteries. Attached to the base are the landing crush pads, made of a cell-paper honeycomb covered by a fiberglass/epoxy fairing. They are designed to handle as much as 8 Gs on impact. Taking more than 150 drop tests to develop, the crush pads can be used only once and must be replaced after every flight.
Red Bull Stratos
Red Bull Stratos, created by Red Bull and Felix Baumgartner, is a mission to the edge of space that will try to surpass human limits that have existed for more than 50 years. Supported by a team of experts, Felix Baumgartner will undertake a stratospheric balloon flight to more than 120,000 feet and make a record-breaking freefall jump attempting to become the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall (an estimated 690 miles per hour) while delivering valuable data for medical and scientific advancement.
- First to complete freefall flight across English Channel using a carbon wing
- Set world records for highest and lowest BASE jumps
With a passion for expanding boundaries, especially in the air, Felix
Baumgartner will execute the jump from the edge of space. A world-recordsetting
skydiver and BASE jumper, the Austrian native is licensed to pilot gas
balloons as well as private and commercial helicopters. Best known for
becoming the first person to complete a freefall flight across the English
Channel wearing a carbon wing (2003), Felix has been nominated for a World
Sports Award and two categories in the NEA Extreme Sports Awards.
JOE KITTINGER: Colonel USAF (Retired), Mission Consultant
- Holds the records Felix Baumgartner is trying to break, including highest
freefall (102,800 ft/31,333m)
- Honored by the Smithsonian for lifetime achievement in aviation
On August 16, 1960, Joe Kittinger made history as he ascended to 102,800
feet/31,333 meters and jumped to Earth, establishing that it would be possible for
humans to survive in space. Following a distinguished USAF career, Joe set two
world ballooning records, and he has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement in
Aviation trophy from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, among
many other honors. Joe shares his knowledge to help address the challenges of
Red Bull Stratos, and as “Capcom” (capsule communications) he will be Mission
Control’s primary radio contact with Felix Baumgartner during ascent.
ART THOMPSON: Technical Project Director
- Was a member of the team that conceived the B-2 “Stealth” bomber
- Vice president of Sage Cheshire Aerospace, Inc.
Art Thompson possesses more than 30 years of experience in innovating design
that has produced such major aerospace milestones as the B-2 “Stealth”
bomber. Today, Art is vice president of Sage Cheshire Aerospace, Inc., the hub
of technological activity for Red Bull Stratos. As technical project director, he has
hand-picked the mission’s extraordinary team, and he oversees and drives
engineering program management overall. Art’s Sage Cheshire team is building
the Red Bull Stratos capsule and developing numerous other vital systems on
JONATHAN CLARK, MD, MPH: Medical Director
- Six-time Space Shuttle crew surgeon
- Space medicine advisor for the National Space Biomedical Research
One of the most distinguished figures in aerospace medicine, Dr. Jonathan
Clark is a six-time Space Shuttle crew surgeon who served in top roles at
Johnson Space Center. He currently teaches at Baylor College of Medicine and
the University of Texas Medical Branch. In the leadership role of Red Bull
Stratos medical director, Jon works to protect the health of Felix Baumgartner
and to establish new safety protocols for future aviators and astronauts.
MARLE HEWETT, PhD: Program Manager and Senior Flight Test Engineer
- Former chairman of the U.S. Naval Academy Aerospace Engineering
- Former engineer for NASA Dryden Flight Research Center
Dr. Marle Hewett is a senior consulting engineer to the aerospace industry and
teaches for the University of Alabama, Huntsville. A retired Navy Commander,
Marle was chairman of the U.S. Naval Academy’s Aerospace Engineering
Department and subsequently was an engineer for facilities including NASA
Dryden Flight Research Center. He coordinates Red Bull Stratos operations
and directs procedures for testing and, ultimately, launch.
MIKE TODD: Life Support Engineer
- Nearly three decades on life support team at Lockheed’s “Skunk Works”
- Fitted pressure suits for record-setting Perlan glider project
Mike Todd worked in Lockheed’s High Altitude Life Support and Pressure Suit
Division, and he fitted pressure suits for Steve Fossett and Einar Enevoldson’s
record-breaking Perlan Project. As the Red Bull Stratos life support engineer,
Mike is responsible for the pressure suit (engineering, system design,
coordination, operation, handling, oxygen components, and fitting and field
support) and how it functions in conjunction with other mission components.
LUKE AIKINS: Skydiving Consultant
- Set three world skydiving records
- Member of Safety and Training Advisor team for U.S. Parachute Association
A professional skydiver with a history of tackling unusual aviation challenges,
Luke Aikins is one of the designated Safety and Training Advisors for the U.S.
Parachute Association. As a member of the Red Bull Stratos team, Luke designs
Felix Baumgartner’s airborne training sessions, personally launches simulation
jumps, and focuses on Felix’s chest pack, parachute and drogue chute setups.
ANDY WALSHE, PhD: High Performance Director
- Known worldwide for helping people and organizations to achieve top
- Former high performance director for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard
Dr. Andy Walshe helps organizations worldwide to explore human potential.
The Australian native is director of high performance for Red Bull global athlete
development and previously designed the performance program for the U.S.
Olympic ski and snowboard teams. He provides high performance support for
the entire Red Bull Stratos team, particularly Felix Baumgartner.
On October 7th, 2010 the Red Bull Stratos team conducted the final
test profile during the week. The capsule and test pilot were brought
to 120,000 feet at a maximum cooling of -60 F. The pre-breathing
process started a 09:40. The capsule systems ground power was removed
at 10:50 and the launch start was at 11:25. Additional desiccant
was added to the capsule but the capsule door again exhibited
condensation during the third flight blocking the view through the
door but the onboard cameras provided full visibility of the test
pilot. The capsule reached 123,000 feet at 14:15 with a chamber
temperature of approximately -14 F where Rob Rowe opened the dump
valve and opened the capsule door starting the egress procedures. Once
he was in position at the step of the capsule the chamber altitude was
reduce at 17,500 fpm as in the previous profile. The flight ended at
14:45 when the chamber reached ambient pressure. The entire flight
time was 3 hours and 20 minutes. The power systems for the payload
were left on the capsule for additional time to represent time of
descent for the capsule. Systems were powered down at approximately
16:45 hours with a payload battery at approximately 11 volts.
The completion of this test process at Brooks is a significant
milestone in the Red Bull Stratos project by man rating the capsule
and all systems.