Sometime before the end of this year, skydiver Felix Baumgartner intends to climb into a capsule suspended beneath a helium balloon, rise 23 miles above Roswell, New Mexico, open the capsule door, and jump out. On the 120,000-foot free fall—the longest ever attempted—he will face temperatures as low as –70°F and speeds of more than 700 miles an hour, becoming the first person to accelerate through the sound barrier without a craft.
At the outset of the project, dubbed Stratos by its sponsor, Red Bull, no high-altitude full-pressure suit had ever been built specifically to withstand this kind of controlled free fall. Engineers at the David Clark Company, which builds full-pressure suits for NASA and the Department of Defense, spent four years developing one. Baumgartner's jump will be the first live trial at Mach speeds.
Suit: It has four layers. The outer layer is made of Nomex, a fire-retardant material that will also act as an insulator. Under the Nomex is a mesh restraint, which holds a gas-filled bladder. The innermost layer is a breathable liner. Once pressurized, the suit will become rigid. Its vertical orientation will help Baumgartner maintain delta position (head down, feet up) throughout his free fall—crucial if he is to avoid a flat spin.
Pressure System: To avoid decompression sickness, hypoxia and tissue damage—all risks associated with drastic changes in atmospheric pressure—Baumgartner will be breathing pure oxygen, and his suit will maintain an internal pressure of 3.5 psi. As he falls, an aneroid valve and a pair of diaphragms will regulate the suit's internal pressure. When he hits 35,000 feet, it will depressurize, giving him greater mobility.
Chest Pack: The technology hub of the suit, the chest pack contains a voice transmitter and receiver; a high-definition video camera with a superwide 120-degree view; an accelerometer; an inertial-measurement unit that reports pitch and angle; and twin sets of lithium-ion batteries, one to power the visor's de-icing system and one to power the chest pack itself.
G-Meter: The jump will begin in the stratosphere, where falling objects, less hindered by air density and friction, tend to spin. But a violent spin could whirl Baumgartner into a G-force-induced loss of consciousness, called G-loc, and even rattle him to death. As a precaution, he will wear a G-force meter on his wrist. If it reads 3.5 or more Gs for a period of six seconds, the meter will trigger the release of a three-foot drogue parachute designed to stabilize spins.
Face Shield: When Baumgartner exits the capsule, the temperature will be –10°F. But by the time he drops to 60,000 or 70,000 feet, where the upper atmosphere begins to reflect heat from the sun, it could plummet to –70°. To prevent his breath from crystallizing on the inside of his faceplate, which would obscure his vision, engineers bonded 110 extremely thin heating wires to the plastic-composite shield.
Parachute System: Baumgartner will carry three parachutes with him: a drogue, a main chute and a reserve. The main and reserve chutes are Baumgartner's usual nine-cell and seven-cell designs but, for additional stability, are 2.5 times as large. He will have four release handles—two red and two yellow—that he can pull in different situations. For example, the red handle on the right side of his chest releases the main chute and jettisons the drogue; the yellow handle on that same hip cuts the main chute free so the reserve can deploy without tangling. If he goes into a spin and can't pull his arms toward his body, he can deploy the drogue by tapping a release ring on the suit's left index finger.
While I gotta admit the astronaut suit looks cool indeed, I also notice the distinct lack of body armor style jointpads. I know he hasn't designed this with the intent being in taking a freefall impact, but even my ballistic type motorcycle gear looks substantially more robust.
I kind of feel like he's going to explode. But what do I know...
He is definitely not the first person to do this. There was a guy in the 60's maybe even late 50's that did this same thing to test out space gear. He also broke the sound barrier. Here he is:"Joseph William Kittinger II (born July 27, 1928) is a former Command Pilot and career military officer in the United States Air Force. He is most famous for his participation in Project Manhigh and Project Excelsior, holding the records for having the highest, fastest and longest skydive, from a height greater than 31 kilometres (19 mi)", booo yahhhh
No, Kittenger did not brake the sound barrier. But he does hold the record for highest jump. Kittenger is acually part of this project to help Felix achieve this new World Record. Both the highest and fastest jump in World history. Officially becoming the first skydiver to brake the sound barrier in a suit. Amazing indeed if he does it. Let`s hope he makes a safe jump.
The reason your looks so much more robust is that the suits are protecting from different things. Your motorcycle suit is meant to protect you should you take a spill on your bike. This suit is to protect hime from vacuum and freezing temps. So it will look different. I still think it looks cool though.
I think its also designed to withstand the high speed he will endure.The more bulky shoulder spine and knee impact adsorbers might make it to aerodynamicly unsafe at supersonic speeds and get ripped out of the suit. Maybe even peel right off just like the skin did on that HTV-2 last year. I think I would be feeling safer wearing some type of pressurized metal armor though.
His suit needs to be bigger in the area protecting his MASSIVE BALLS. Who's with me? eh? eh? ;)
I am most concerned about the fastest portion of the descent, it will be very hard to keep from going into a crazy spin when you are past the sound barrier. If he goes into a spin it could easily be lethal in itself, even with emergency equipment to make sure the landing itself is safe.
@Igot1forya: hahahahahahaha absolutely with you on that one. My only question is, how does he sit down with balls that big?
The most important tool you own is the greasy jello between your ears
It's the precursor to The Fury! The Fury!
I want to jump from space too!!!!!!!!!!
Science sees no further than what it can sense, i.e. facts.
Religion sees beyond the senses, i.e. faith.
Open your mind and see!
Joe Kittinger did go faster than the speed of sound at sea level. I believe that's about 720 mph. He went about 900 miles per hour but since it obviously wasn't at sea level he probably didn't exceed to speed of sound at his actual altitude.
Joe Kittenger has the biggest cajones EVER. This other forgettable douche bay has over 50 years of science at his disposal. Joe Kittenger just jumped to find out what would happen. It's like Joe Kittenger took a Model A up to 200 MPH and this guy thinks he's a better man for going 210 in a Ferrari.
the next designed of suit should be from halo ODST master chief, and that would be awesome..
Its 2012 man, RedBull isn't going to sponsor this type of project and let Felix jump without examining every possible scenario and preparing for it. Kittinger did this 50 years ago when the technology for it was a joke. Felix deserves just as much if not more credit for what he is doing now. Its called technological development, and its the way the world works. Soldiers 100 year ago weren't more bad ass because they didn't have body armor..