27 Dec 2012 20:28
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