Earlier this year Kevin Watanabe’s 4th grade class in Denver, CO got a special visit from Dr. Jonathan Clark, medical director for Red Bull Stratos. The kids no doubt had many questions for the team, especially Col. Joe Kittinger. Luckily for us, Joe had answers for all of them.
Question from Jenna B: “Do you feel like you have a different connection with Felix and are you mad he wants to break your record?”
Col. Joe Kittinger: “No, I’m not mad because I feel that records are made to be broken and valuable research will result in these jumps from space… Yes, I have a connection with Felix because I was close to the altitude that Felix will be jumping from. I know all the emotions that will be going through his mind.”
Question from Caleb: “Do you think Felix is ready and are you worried?”
Col. Joe Kittinger: ”Yes, Felix is ready and no, I’m not worried because Felix is a professional athlete and an experienced skydiver. He is going to a very hostile environment to obtain needed research.”
Question from Grant: “Do you feel a little jealous?”
Col. Joe Kittinger: ”I’m not jealous because I feel that records are made to be broken. Felix’s jump will provide needed research on escape from near space. Felix will also be testing the next generation pressure suit for astronauts and aviators.”
Thanks to all the students who followed the Red Bull Stratos mission!
Tags: Twain Elementary School, Red Bull Stratos, Joe Kittinger, Dr. Jon Clark
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