Stratos Capsule Ready For Launch
The capsule that will carry Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner to 120,000 feet in an attempt to beat a 52-year-old freefall record is "mission-ready," the Red Bull Stratos team said on Tuesday. Five years in the making, the capsule's retro-futuristic design recalls the Apollo spacecraft, but the materials and science that went into its construction are state-of-the-art. The 2,900-pound spacecraft will be carried aloft by a helium balloon. After Baumgartner jumps, the balloon tether will be severed and a recovery chute will float the capsule back to Earth. The record attempt will launch from New Mexico. The team has not announced a launch window.
The capsule will protect Baumgartner from stratospheric temperatures reaching 70 degrees below zero, and creates a stable oxygenated and pressurized environment during the ascent to help avoid decompression sickness, according to Red Bull. The craft will also act as a stable base for his step-off into free-fall. The capsule is also designed to capture "valuable scientific data to advance aerospace research," Red Bull said. The free-fall record is currently held by Joe Kittinger, who is an advisor to the project. He jumped from a height of 102,800 feet in 1960.