Earlier this year I met with former NASA astronaut Col. Blaine Hammond. As Red Bull Stratos made its announcement in February 2012 that Felix Baumgartner would attempt a jump from at least 120,000 feet, I asked Col. Hammond how he felt about our endeavor.
"It looks extremely interesting and, if all goes well, it will be interesting to extrapolate Felix’s results to a Shuttle crew that might have had to bail out at such altitudes."
Col. Hammond was optimistic and hoped all would go as planned so that our efforts would contribute to the science of space exploration. One thing he preached to classrooms after becoming an astronaut June 1985 was, “prepare now for what you want later”. That was an ongoing theme for Felix and the science team spending more than 5 years preparing for the supersonic jump completed Oct. 14, 2012.
Col. Hammond understands how crucial and unforgiving space exploration can be. Not only had he served as an astronaut, he was the ascent/entry spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) for shuttle missions following the Challenger disaster. When asked how he and his colleagues handled tense mission moments, Blaine said it was important to have the right attitude when approaching the unknown. Col. Hammond flew as pilot of Discovery on STS-39, the first unclassified Department of Defense mission (April 28 to May 6, 1991). He logged 8 days, 7 hours, 23 minutes of space flight. The seven-man crew performed numerous scientific experiments to collect data on atmospheric infrared and ultraviolet phenomena including a deploy and rendezvous in support of the Strategic Defense Initiative Office (SDIO).
Col. Hammond left NASA in 1998 and now spends his time in the sky as a test pilot for Gulfstream.
Tags: Red Bull Stratos, astronaut, Blaine Hammond, NASA
The UCD and pressure suit interior
Many have asked how it’s possible to use the “bathroom” when you’re locked inside a pressurized space suit. After all, it was crticially important for Felix to remain hydrated on his way up to the stratosphere.
A special diet was in force days ahead of the jump to eliminate the possibility of solid waste. A urine collection device or UCD was worn like a second skin inside the pressure suit. During urination the pressure suit would pressurize ever so slightly. That pressure pushed the liquid waste from the UCD down a tube through transfer connector hardware which extended down to a collection tank under Felix’s seat.
Tags: Red Bull Stratos, UCD, pressure suit
Learning about Red Bull Stratos
courtesy: Michael Silverman
courtesy: Michael Silverman
After Hurricane Sandy made landfall. courtesy: Michael Silverman
After Hurricane Sandy made landfall. courtesy: Ben Hallman
Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on NASA/NOAA's Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite captured this night-time view of Hurricane Sandy Oct. 29, 2012
Students and teachers at Patrick F. Daly School, 1/2 mile from New York Bay, were in a fight for their lives when Hurricane Sandy made landfall Oct. 29, 2012. After the storm had passed leaving the northeast in devastation, teachers at Patrick F. Daly directed attention to the Red Bull Stratos mission. It was the perfect lesson plan for these kids who had temporarily lost their school.Michael Silverman with the STEM program (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) describes the aftermath:"The basement was under twenty-five feet of water. The boiler and electrical systems were completely destroyed, along with all of the replacement furniture for the classrooms. The school was deemed uninhabitable. After a week of determining the damage, students and staff reported to a nearby school, to continue teaching and learning. We accommodated the space by placing entire grades of up to 70 students in a single classroom. As teachers worked with students to cope with the trauma and loss, we gave mini-lessons on the atmosphere, air pressure, and the speed of sound.Students viewed the website and accompanying videos. It was amazing to watch their reaction. They applauded as Felix took his first step from the capsule and then high-fived one another when he landed safely. They had many questions about the team of scientists and technicians, and wanted to do their own research. Mostly they felt empowered, and from this experience found an underlying message; no matter the odds or goal, obstacles can be overcome and great things can be achieved. It was important for all of us during that moment to be reminded of that. Thank you and congratulations on your amazing accomplishment!”
Tags: Patrick F. Daly School, Red Bull Stratos, Hurricane Sandy, storm, flooding
The original “space jumper”, (Ret) Col. Joe Kittinger, boldly took the position as Felix Baumgartner’s mentor and sole capsule communicator during the Red Bull Stratos mission. He was the perfect man for the job considering his experience as a U.S. Air Force test pilot and the first man to touch the dark sky from 102,800 ft. Listen to his experience on the BBC World Service Outlook.
You get a clear sense of Joe’s matter-of-fact approach to life when he talks about his depressurized glove during the 1960 balloon flight: “I knew if I told them they’d make me abort and I didn’t want to abort…I didn’t share my problem with them…it [Joe’s hand] would not explode, the blood would seep out through the skin….the hand swelled up in the glove”.
Tags: Joe Kittinger, Felix Baumgartner, Red Bull Stratos, BBC, Outlook, space jump
The Red Bull Stratos Team sends good wishes and joy for the holidays. This picture was taken July 25, 2012 shortly after Felix’s second jump from the stratosphere at 97,145 ft (29,610 m). Santa’s helpers manipulated the sign to fit the holiday season. We dedicate 2012 to our fans.
"Thanks to the media, the whole world shared in the adventure as Felix jumped from 128,000 feet and reached the speed of 833 mph. What an exciting event! Sherry joins me in wishing all the Red Bull Stratos fans a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!"
"I cannot believe what an amazing year 2012 was and what an incredible way to finish the journey. In many ways, it’s a little sad that the whole adventure is now over but the friends and mates we met along the way will forever be in our hearts. To all the fans, colleagues, families and everyone else, thank you so much for all the support for Red Bull Stratos over all those years and Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones."
"Christmas greetings to all the ranchers and oil lease owners of Roswell and Tatum who welcomed the long range optics team on their land. Without their help we would never have been able to get the tremendous pictures of the mission."
"From the entire FlightLine Films team, we are glad you could "ride along" with Felix on his amazing journey! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!"
"Thank you to our entire team for staying focused through the highs and lows and especially a big thank you to Red Bull for their outstanding dedication and support in helping to make this project come to fruition. You are a great company!"
"Abundant Blessings across the globe; to every devoted individual who cheered and prayed for the success of Red Bull Stratos, and the safe return of Felix—thank you! It was an extreme privilege for ATA-Aerospace to participate in this project, not only furthering balloon and space flight technology—but historically speaking as well. Our sincerest gratitude to Red Bull, and Sage Cheshire Aerospace (two amazing organizations!) that had a unique vision and unwavering determination—taking mankind to new heights. Merry Christmas to all, and God Bless Us Everyone!"
"What an amazing year and such a joy to be able to connect with the world as we all find hope and inspiration together. Happy Holidays and here’s to many more adventures!"
"As your Red Bull Stratos web editor/embedded reporter I’m overjoyed thinking about what this team accomplished, having witnessed the transformation of ideas and dreams. The men and women who make up Red Bull Stratos are proven warriors, dedicating their lives to a mission tapped with challenges, unknowns, and victories. It was my privilege to share the stories behind this outstanding scientific project. Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to all of you who believed in us."
"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 who I am very proud to call my friend. His inspiration in aerospace led to a challenge that so many wished to aspire to. When my friend Felix Baumgartner requested me to assemble the team, design a program and flight test systems capable of reaching these goals, I brought the best people I knew. These living legends were not only the best in their field they were my peers, associates and friends from many other amazing programs and accomplishments. From so many different professional areas they joined my call to advance aerospace technology, capturing 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 but more important you are my family, my friends that I will forever be permanently forged together with in time and history. Thank you Felix and Red Bull for helping us make history and forever advance 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 you a happy and prosperous 2013 to the Red Bull Stratos, Sage Cheshire, Riedel, FlightLine Films, ATA-A, Wyle, and Media House family and to 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.”
-Art Thompson, Sage Cheshire Aerospace
Tags: Felix Baumgartner, Joe Kittinger, Merry Christmas, Red Bull Stratos, space dive, Art Thompson, Mike Todd, FlightLine Films, Andy Walshe, Natasha Stenbock