15 Oct 2014 04:33
Where are they now?
The Red Bull Stratos team hasn’t exactly been taking it easy since they completed the mission two years ago (14 Oct 2012). Felix has been in demand all over the planet, from giving keynote speeches and doing magazine cover shoots to piloting helicopter flights for athletes and VIPs at sporting events. As always, he continues to challenge himself: this year he took on the 24 Hours Nürburgring auto race with Audi Race Experience.
“I really miss my Red Bull Stratos team, because without them I would have never been successful!” Felix says. So where are they now? Mike Todd, the life support engineer who got Felix suited up for every mission, has been giving presentations, and he took care of that suit throughout a museum tour that finished up at the Smithsonian Institution, where Felix’s equipment is now part of the permanent collection on display in the Udvar-Hazy Center. We caught up a few other team members in person to find out what they’re up to.
Art Thompson [Technical Project Director]
“The lessons learned from Red Bull Stratos are already being actively applied by the Air Force and NASA – for example, after studying the atmosphere we created in Felix’s capsule, the altitude pressure inside U-2 aircraft has been changed to reduce decompression sickness. My company Sage Cheshire Aerospace is also supporting development for programs like a space taxi that could eventually go to Mars, and we’re promoting science education around the world, including working with universities to teach graduate students about mission control and flight test methods.”
Joe Kittinger [Colonel USAF (Retired), Mission Consultant]
“I’ve been traveling to share my experiences on Red Bull Stratos and other projects, consulting on programs like a trans-Atlantic balloon attempt and working with other team members to mentor university students as they prepare for aerospace careers. Another project close to my heart is leading an effort to install an F-4 Phantom jet as a monument to Central Florida veterans at a park that’s named after me in Orlando.”
Dr. Jonathan Clark [Medical Director]
“While I’m continuing to teach at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Medical Branch, I’ve been doing a lot of traveling to share our findings and also to work with the next generation. On the two-year anniversary today, several of us are on the Cal State Los Angeles campus doing a STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] event. It’s so cool to see the passion of these students – I think we’re going to be seeing some really important strides in space safety.”
Luke Aikins [Skydiving Consultant]
“I’ve been doing demonstration jumps with wingsuits and parachutes all over the world, and I spent a year and a half putting together my baby, the Red Bull Aces wingsuit contest, which we’ll be continuing next year. I also train military jumpers, plus I’m planning for a skydive that I’ll be making myself in 2015 – which won’t be from a high altitude like Felix, but will definitely be history-making. And then there’s my favorite thing, raising my two-and-a-half-year-old son!”
Jay Nemeth [Director of High-Altitude Photography]
“My company FlightLine Films is now supporting the private space sector with long-range optical tracking of rocket launches, and putting cameras inside private spacecraft.”
Tags: Stratosphere, Felix Baumgartner, Art Thompson, anniversary, Red Bull Stratos