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When you are standing on top of the world, you don’t think of records anymore. All you think about is coming back down alive.
January 2012: Equipment launches to the stratosphere to confirm it is ready for manned test jumps.
March 2012: Felix freefalls successfully from 71.581 feet.
July 2012: Felix jumps from 97,145 feet, with a freefall speed of 536 mph.
The purpose of the Red Bull Stratos Mission was to transcend human limits.
Supported by a team of experts, Felix Baumgartner ascended in a helium balloon and made a freefall jump from 127,852 feet over Roswell, New Mexico, rushing towards earth at supersonic speed before parachuting to the ground. His successful feat on Oct. 14, 2012, while breaking numerous records, was also the culmination of a scientific flight test program. Felix and the team showed that with the right equipment and proper training, a human being can accelerate through the sound barrier. This is a vital breakthrough as the aerospace industry is seeking solutions for crew and passenger escape in emergency situations, especially with commercial space travel on the horizon.
The advancements and findings of the mission will continue to provide valuable medical and scientific research data for future pioneers in years to come. For medical research alone, the body monitor Felix wore during the flight provided more than 100 million data points – including the first ever physiological data gained from a human in supersonic freefall.
„We tried to prepare ourselves as much as possible for reaching supersonic speed, but we really didn’t know what was going to happen as nobody had done this before.” Jon Clark, Medical Director
Constructed from strips of high-performance polyethylene (plastic) film just 0.0008 inches thick. The seams are heat-sealed and incorporate polyester-fiber reinforced load tapes. With a capacity of 30 million cubic feet of helium, it’s the largest manned balloon ever flown.
Suspended 150 ft below the balloon, it weighs 2,900 lbs fully loaded. Life-support system provides a stable oxygenated, pressurized environment during ascent. Once the mission is completed, a triggering system releases the craft from the balloon and it descends under a special parachute.
With a passion for exceeding borders, especially in the air, Red Bull Stratos pilot Felix Baumgartner is an expert parachutist, previously best known for completing an unprecedented freefall flight across the English Channel using a carbon wing. Born on April 20, 1969, Felix grew up in Salzburg, Austria, where as a young boy he was inspired to skydive and fly helicopters by astronauts he watched on TV.
Dedicated to progression, Felix set a record for history‘s lowest BASE-Jump (from Rio de Janeiro‘s Christ the Redeemer statue) and twice set world records for the highest BASE-Jump from a building. As licensed gas balloon pilot, he has earned private helicopter licenses in Austria and the United States as well as his commercial European license. Felix was honoured on Vienna’s “Street of Champions”, and with his achievements have come honors including the BAMBI “Millennium” Award, Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year, and National Gerographic Adventurer of the Year.
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.
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.
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.
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 site.
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.
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
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.
The Red Bull Stratos team is composed of world-leading experts in medicine, science and engineering, including a former NASA crew surgeon, record-breaking aviators and designers of some of the most innovative aircraft ever produced. Among them: Art Thompson from Sage Cheshire Aerospace, who assembled and led the mission team, and Joe Kittinger, the aerospace legend who has been Felix’s mentor every step of the way.