- Alan Eustace, 57, was wearing a specially designed spacesuit
- Was lifted by a balloon filled with 35,000 cubic feet of helium
- Took 15 minutes to descend after using explosives to separate himself from balloon
- Jump preparations and three year project kept secret until today
- Exit Altitude, Vertical Speed and Freefall Distance records broken
One of Google’s most senior executive’s has broken Felix Baumgartner’s record for the highest parachute jump in history.
Alan Eustace, 57, a senior vice president of Knowledge at Google, was this morning lifted by a balloon filled with 35,000 cubic feet of helium, from an abandoned runway at an airport in New Mexico.
A well-known computer scientist, he fell faster than the speed of sound and broke Baumgartner’s world altitude record set just two years ago by jumping from 135,000 feet.
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Alan Eustace, 57, a senior vice president at Google, during his record breaking leap from 135,000 feet.
Eustace (inside suit) jumped in this special spacesuit which was suspended under a giant balloon.
SPACE JUMP FACTS
The suit was a self-contained personal system for exploring the stratosphere
Similar to spacesuits used on the International Space Station, with improvements (to handle descent and landing)
The balloon was filled with helium, and had an 11M cubic feet capacity
It started at just 30,000 cubic feet, but as air pressure decreases will expand to 275 ft across.
It was controlled by a ballast and a vent to manage the ascent.
He returned to earth just 15 minutes after starting his fall.
‘It was amazing,’ he told the New York Times.
‘It was beautiful.
‘You could see the darkness of space and you could see the layers of atmosphere, which I had never seen before.’
Mr. Eustace cut himself loose from the balloon with the aid of a small explosive device and plummeted toward the earth at a speeds that peaked at more than 800 miles per hour, setting off a small sonic boom heard by observers on the ground.
‘It was a wild, wild ride,’ he said. ‘I hugged on to the equipment module and tucked my legs and I held my heading.’
Eustace broke several records, including national record for highest exit altitude; world and national record for free fall under a drogue chute; national record for vertical speed.
Additionally, he became the second person to break the sound barrier outside an aircraft.
‘Today, after 34 months of intense planning, development and training, Alan Eustace, supported by Paragon Space Development Corporation and its Stratospheric Explorer (StratEx) team, made history with a near-space dive from a high-altitude balloon at approximately 135,000 feet,’ Pagagon, the firm which developed the systems, said.
Lift off! Eustace taking off suspended under the balloon at dawn
The team decided against using a capsule, simply suspending the suit under a balloon instead
Eustace was lifted to his peak altitude by a helium-filled scientific balloon while wearing a custom-made pressurized spacesuit.
At over 135,000 feet, he began his dive, remaining in free fall for approximately 4.5 minutes before landing safely nearly 70 miles from his launch point.
THE RECORDS BROKEN
First World Record – Exit Altitude:
Alan took off at 07:00 am MDT this morning from Roswell, NM, elevation 3673 MSL. After ascending for 2 hours and 7 minutes (1000 fpm) to a peak ‘float’ altitude of 136,401 feet (a unofficial record for the highest manned balloon flight), he exited at 09:09:51 MDT from an altitude of 135,890 feet (41,420 meters)—a new absolute FAI world record.
Second World Record – Vertical Speed:
In freefall, passing 100,000 feet, Alan reached a peak velocity of 822 mph,Mach 1.23 (1321 km/hr.). By comparison at the same altitude in 2012, Felix Baumgartner was falling at 809 mph and Mach 1.20 . . . however, Felix continued to accelerate . . . at 91,000 he reached his peak velocity of 843 mph, Mach 1.24. (As a further comparison, Alan was completely stable, while at the same point in time, Felix was spinning uncontrollably).
Third World Record – Freefall Distance:
Alan manually deployed his parachute after freefalling (with his stabilizing drogue) 4 minutes and 27 seconds, opening at an altitude of 12,476 feet. His total freefall distance was 123,414 feet (37,617 meters)—a new FAI World Record.
Alan landed at 09:24—14 minutes and 19 seconds after dropping away from the stratospheric balloon. His total flight time was 2 hours, 23 minutes and 40 seconds. He made a safe landing and in great condition, and of course, in high spirits—mission accomplished.
‘I always wondered: what if you could design a system that would allow humans to explore the stratosphere as easily and safely as they do the ocean?
‘With the help of the world-class StratEx team, I hope we’ve encouraged others to explore this part of the world about which we still know so little.’ said Eustace.
Higher than Everest: Eustace leapt from 135,000 feet
Eustace cut himself loose from the balloon with the aid of a small explosive device and plummeted toward the earth at a speeds that peaked at more than 800 miles per hour, setting off a small sonic boom heard by observers on the ground.
The previous altitude record was set by Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner, who jumped from 128,100 feet on Oct. 14, 2012.
The balloon was filled with helium, and had an 11M cubic feet capacityIt started at just 30,000 cubic feet, but as air pressure decreases will expand to 275 ft across.It was controlled by a ballast and a vent to manage the ascent.
A StratEx team goal was to develop a self-contained spacesuit system that allows for manned exploration of the stratosphere above 100,000 feet.
Such a system has a wide range of applications in stratospheric science, development of spaceship crew egress and the study of suited aerodynamics above Mach 1.
Today, this goal was achieved as Eustace pushed the limits of human exploration, accomplishing a new way to explore a largely unexplored part of our planet.
The team with the spacesuit, and Eustace inside
Mr. Eustace dangled underneath the balloon in a specially designed spacesuit with an elaborate life-support system. He inhaled pure oxygen during a 4-hour ‘pre-breathe’ phase to wash nitrogen from his body.
Grant Anderson, President and CEO and co-founder of Paragon, said, ‘The experience and dedication of the StratEx team was crucial to the program’s success.
‘Together, Alan and the team today extended human spaceflight to the stratosphere in an important step to solidify the safety of future human endeavors.
‘ It is an honor to work with such an incredibly talented and accomplished group.
‘This has opened up endless possibilities for humans to explore previously seldom visited parts of our stratosphere.