A Skydive that lasted 15 minutes
Twenty-Five miles up into the atmosphere, a man hung from a balloon contemplating what he was about to accomplish for the advancement of science. Little did he know he was about to set a world record. At such a high risk, he would pave a new road for aviation history.
The Man, The Jumper
Alan Eustace, a Computer Scientist with Google, made a historic jump from the stratosphere in 2014. He has been passionate for skydiving since the age of 18 years old. This precipitated the spark for this adventure to the edge of the earth.
Alan had a concept for the design of a suit for space jumping based on the idea of a scuba diving suit. With scuba diving, “you only take what you need” as he mentioned. He proved that to travel to the stratosphere, a capsule was not required.
His jumpsuit had an inner frame structure with the dual capacity to warm and cool. The dual temperature environment within the suit would prevent the face shield from fogging over and allow him to maintain a comfortable (life-saving) temperature level.
What is a stratosphere?
The earth’s atmosphere consists of five layers. The higher the layer, the thinner the air is. Each layer has its unique properties and temperatures. Eustace traveled up to the stratosphere where he jumped.
- Closest to Earth’s Surface; this is where we live
- 4-12 miles high
- Warm at the lower level near Earth but colder higher up
- Second layer just above Troposphere
- 12-31 miles high
- Jets and weather balloons fly in this layer
- Third layer just above Stratosphere
- 31-53 miles high
- The coldest part of earth’s atmosphere average -130 degrees
- Fourth layer just above Mesosphere
- 53-620 miles high
- The hottest part of atmosphere up to 2,700 degrees
- Space shuttles and International Space Station orbits Earth in this layer
- Fifth layer just above Thermosphere
- Highest layer and it merges into outer space
Alan began his ascent hooked onto a weather balloon filled with helium. He traveled upwards for two hours while he dangled beneath the balloon in his specially designed suit.
At the peak of his flight up, he was in awe of the beauty. “It was amazing,” he said. “You could see the darkness, and you could see the layers of the atmosphere.” He had traveled up to an altitude of 135,890 feet!
Releasing a tether hooked from his suit to the balloon, he began to plummet downward. The tremendous speeds of up to 822 mph, caused him to break the sound barrier and was heard by some on the ground. He was not even aware he had broken the sound barrier!
“It was a wild, wild ride. I hugged on to the equipment module and tucked my legs and held my heading.”
Gravity Wins Again!
Regardless of the two hours it took to reach the targeted altitude, once gravity took hold of Alan Eustace, he was pulled back down in a matter of 15 minutes! Something to ponder within one’s mind.