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Red Bull Stratos Jump On Hold

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As recently as last weekend, a Red Bull Stratos team member told AVweb all was going well and the jump was planned for this year, but on Tuesday the team said the project is on hold pending the resolution of a lawsuit. The Stratos team announced early this year that it would launch a helium balloon to 120,000 feet, where Felix Baumgartner would jump out and return to Earth by parachute, to beat the longstanding free-fall record held by Col. Joe Kittinger. On Tuesday, a brief news release said that "Red Bull GmbH and Red Bull North America, Inc., have decided to stop the Red Bull Stratos program with immediate effect." A lawsuit was filed in April in Los Angeles Superior Court by Daniel Hogan, who says that in 2004 he pitched the idea to Red Bull to break Kittinger's record, and the company talked with him about the project for a year before backing out. In its statement, Red Bull said it has "acted appropriately ... and will demonstrate this as the case progresses."

Red Bull's statement continues: "Despite the fact that many other people over the past 50 years have tried to break Colonel (Ret.) Joe Kittinger's record, and that other individuals have sought to work with Red Bull in an attempt to break his record, Mr. Hogan claims to own certain rights to the project and filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit earlier this year in a Californian court. ... Due to the lawsuit, we have decided to stop the project until this case has been resolved." According to Courthouse News, Hogan claims he pitched the idea to Red Bull as a "marriage of daredevil, record-breaking 'stuntsmanship' and cutting-edge technology." He assembled a team including balloonist Per Lindstrand, a Russian company that would develop the spacesuit, two medical professionals and a filmmaker. Red Bull spokesperson Maddy Stephens told AVweb on Tuesday: "It is not a unique idea to beat an existing world record (especially when it is 50 years old). The challenge is to actually beat it. Otherwise, we do not comment on pending litigation."

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