If you’re going to skydive from a balloon at a world-record height of 120,000 feet and hope to become the first person to break the sound barrier going 700 mph in free fall, as Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner will be attempting to do Tuesday morning, you’re going to want to be wearing a pretty special space suit.
Indeed, for his record jump, Felix will wear a special full-pressurized space suit and helmet, an outfit created–curiously–by a company that could not care less about Baumgartner’s record skydive.
According to a report in Wired.com, many other skydivers had approached the David Clark Company about breaking Joe Kittinger’s 1960 world-record jump from 102,800 feet, but the Massachusetts firm that has specialized in making space suits since 1941 always refused to help.
Until Felix Baumgartner and his Red Bull Stratos team came along.
“With Stratos, they had assembled a team of people who were experts in their subject matter,” Dan Barry of the David Clark Company told Wired.com in leading up to the jump. “It’s a chance to validate current equipment, and to protect future vehicles as man continues to fly higher and faster and the environment gets harsher and harsher. It’s more about the science. We have no interest in the record…
“We can learn what types of materials are needed to protect crews, what types of interfaces, etc., are needed if you’re ejecting from extreme altitude. If you look at the evolution of any type of protective equipment, there are things to be learned that will be directly applicable to designing the next generation of crew-protecting equipment.”
Baumgartner will be wearing the current generation’s space suit, which has plenty of impressive qualities. Among the highlighted details from Red Bull Stratos (with a full-length, detailed look at the suit below):
To view all the qualities about the space suit and helmet, check out Red Bull Stratos’ page on Pressure Suit and Helmet.
Photo and graphic courtesy of Red Bull Stratos.