Categorized | Space, Technology

5 hints for successful dive in space

space diveIt is not easy to do a balloon jump from a 23-mile height, considering all the dangers involved in such an activity. Back in 1960 the Air Force test pilot Joe Kittinger made his famous jump from a 103-thousand feet height. Many have tried to break his record, but none of them has yet succeeded. Today Felix Baumgartner is certain that he will be the one to finally break the record. To understand why exactly it is so extremely hard to do what Kittinger did half a century ago, we have interviewed Craig Ryan, an expert in the field of space jumping and he revealed us the formula for a successful jump in these kinds of conditions.

Technology – In the era of major technological developments it would be too self-confident to try such an activity without the best suited equipment. In order to succeed in this kind of space jump, Ryan will need a pressure suit, a parachute, a balloon and a launch vehicle. He will be launched to a level of 120,000 feet and then jump back to the earth, exactly according to the plan. Because he’s going to be launched to an extremely high site with near-vacuum conditions, his parachute and capsule were custom-made for him in order to prevent him from decompression. The spacesuit for the mission is specially designed by a NASA specialist in to make it completely resistant to pressure. At these heights it’s a matter of life and death, and if the pressure suit becomes even slightly damaged, the jumper will have no way to elude death. Another very important piece of equipment is the balloon. It has to be made of a very thin layer of material, yet strong enough to hold on during the period of the jump.

Expertise – Another important piece of the puzzle for this kind of jump is the supporting team. It is not easy to find experts in space jumping area, because almost nobody performs these regularly. Therefore, you should trust only the people with the highest understanding of the process. The team should contain no less of a composition of experts in aerospace, life support, skydiving, flight testing and space medicine. All these are no less important for the jump than they are for a space mission.

Leadership – Discipline is the key word in the army; moreover, the Air Force discipline of Joe Kittinger was among the most important factors that led to his success in 1960. There are several examples of how the lack of discipline can sabotage the mission. The French team of Michel Fournier, who failed several times in his attempts to break Kittinger’s record, lacked the proper discipline and pressed the launch despite the bad weather. In the matters of life and death these kinds of mistakes are unacceptable. Thankfully, Ryan’s team learns from both positive and negative experience of the colleagues and they intend keeping the best possible discipline to succeed in what they have started.

Mission – Kittinger’s jump was a success partly due to the urgency of his mission. The Air Force had to prove that it was possible for pilots to escape their vehicles in such conditions. This urgency has boosted Kittinger’s self-confidence with some motivation that lacked in the next missions that were led by civilian organizations, which didn’t have the same level of determination. However, Ryan’s team, Red Bull Stratos, has an agenda that will surely lead them to success. The idea, as the team medical director says, is to see how a person can experience breaking the sound barrier twice – going from subsonic to supersonic environment and back to subsonic. This jump will also help test the pressure suits under these extreme conditions and not only help the science, but also design lifesaving suits for pilots in case of accidents in similar conditions.

Money – As always, money is an important factor, especially in this kind of mission that requires tremendous resources, research, development and ambition. Moreover, these kinds of programs bear a high level of failure chance and it is very hard to convince potential sponsors to invest in such projects, while explaining them that the mission might end up tragically. However, if the mission ends up a success, it can bring an amazing achievement and will immediately draw a lot of attention, as well as new investors and ideas.

Craig Ryan states that the jump is extremely difficult to do and it requires a combination of many parts working together as a perfect machine. Yet, he is certain that Baumgartner has what it takes to finally set a new record and once again prove humanity that everything is possible.

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