Red Bull Stratos, a mission to the edge of space, will attempt to transcend human limits that have existed for 50 years. Supported by a team of experts Felix Baumgartner plans to ascend to 120,000 feet in a stratospheric balloon and make a freefall jump rushing toward earth at supersonic speeds before parachuting to the ground. His attempt to dare atmospheric limits holds the potential to provide valuable medical and scientific research data for future pioneers.
The Red Bull Stratos team brings together the world's leading minds in aerospace medicine, engineering, pressure suit development, capsule creation and balloon fabrication. It includes retired United States Air Force Colonel Joseph Kittinger, who holds three of the records Felix will strive to break.
Joe's record jump from 102,800 ft in 1960 was during a time when no one knew if a human could survive a jump from the edge of space. Joe was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and had already taken a balloon to 97,000 feet in Project ManHigh and survived a drogue mishap during a jump from 76,400 feet in Excelsior I. The Excelsior III mission was his 33rd parachute jump.
Although researching extremes was part of the program's goals, setting records wasn't the mission's purpose. Joe ascended in helium balloon launched from the back of a truck. He wore a pressurized suit on the way up in an open, unpressurized gondola. Scientific data captured from Joe's jump was shared with U.S. research personnel for development of the space program. Today Felix and his specialized team hope to take what was learned from Joe's jumps more than 50 years ago and press forward to test the edge of the human envelope.
Like any transportation system, high-altitude flights need safety procedures; but currently, researchers don't know if it's possible to bail out from ultra-high altitudes. What would happen to a human falling to Earth faster than the speed of sound? Would a spacesuit provide sufficient protection? Would GPS equipment function? Could a drogue parachute provide adequate stabilization?
Worldwide, the answers to such questions are vital. Aviators and astronauts look to extend the boundaries of their exploration and – with the opening of facilities like SpacePort America – the day when everyday people can become space tourists is on the horizon. The mission's findings may point the way toward developing escape systems for the space tourists of the future, as well as for the pilots and astronauts who already need suborbital systems today.
SCIENTIFIC CONTRIBUTION FOCUS
Red Bull Stratos aims to provide information that will further the progression of aerospace safety. The key benefits for the science community are as follows:
– To aid development of a new generation of space suits – including enhanced mobility and visual clarity – and other systems to lead toward passenger/crew exit from space.
– To aid development of protocols for exposure to high altitude/high acceleration.
– To aid exploration of the effects on the human body of supersonic acceleration and deceleration, including development of the latest innovations in parachute systems.
– Reaching supersonic speed in freefall:First person to achieve the speed of sound (Mach 1) in freefall without mechanical assistance. Speed estimated to be about 690 miles per hour at point of breaking sound barrier; acceleration could continue to more than Mach 1.1 (previous record: 614 miles per hour, Mach 0.9).
– Freefall from highest altitude:Expected jump from approximately 120,000 feet (previous record: 102,800 feet).
– Longest freefall time:Expected freefall duration of about 5 minutes, 35 seconds (previous record: 4 minutes, 36 seconds).
– Highest manned balloon flight:Expected float altitude of approximately 120,000 feet (previous record: 113,740 feet).
All figures approximate based on anticipated conditions and projected factors.
7 Years of Planning and Testing:
Second manned test achieved in July, the highest jump and fastest speed for Felix Baumgartner. Altitude: 97,063 feet / 29,584 meters and freefall speed: 536 miles or 864 kilometres per hour (latest figures sanctioned by USAP and NAA).
First manned test complete in March: Felix freefalls successfully from 71,615 ft (2179 m)
Unmanned test launches to the stratosphere confirm equipment is ready for manned test jumps.
Launch site of Roswell, New Mexico, USA revealed.
Chamber tests are conducted at Brooks-City Base in San Antonio, Texas. Capsule is "man-rated" (confirmed appropriate for human transport) to 121,000 feet.
Felix Baumgartner intensifies physical, psychological and technical training under direction of Dr. Andy Walshe.
After several months' downtime, mission team reassesses condition of equipment and analyzes test procedures necessary to verify flight readiness.
Felix obtains his U.S. gas balloon license.
Wind tunnel testing/training conducted in pressure suit.
Felix Baumgartner conducts first high-altitude training in pressure suit, including several parachute jumps from aircraft at 27,000 feet.
Medical team expands to include six-time Space Shuttle crew surgeon Jon Clark as medical director; development of safety protocols continues.
Personal parachute system development begins.
High-altitude helium balloons are secured.
National Aviation Hall of Fame member and current record holder Col. Joe Kittinger joins Red Bull Stratos team, meets Felix Baumgartner for first time.
David Clark Company agrees for the first time ever to produce a suit for a non-governmental space program.
Under the technical direction of Art Thompson, planning and team recruitment begins.
Capsule development begins at Sage Cheshire Aerospace in Lancaster, California.
Felix Baumgartner and Red Bull begin to lay the groundwork for a stratospheric freefall that would expand the boundaries of human flight.