Alan preparing for takeoff. Photo by: Volker D. Kern / PSDC
Some of you may remember Felix Baumgartner and the Red Bull Stratossupersonic freefall that occurred back in 2012. The record held by the Australian daredevil was broken today. Alan Eustace, vice president of Google, fell faster than the speed of sound with a jump that began near the top of the stratosphere. Eustace used a balloon containing 35,000 cubic feet of helium, and it was a two hour ride to the stratosphere. The balloon reached a speed of 1,600 feet per minute on its way up. The balloon reached its peak at 25 miles above the Earth’s surface.
Eustace was dressed in a specially-designed space suit, complete with life support. He detached from the large helium balloon with the help of a small explosion. The seal of his suit prevented him from hearing the sonic boom. All of the equipment involved in the project was a result of a great deal of hard work, which Eustace managed to keep under wraps for the past three years.
After two back flips during free fall, Eustace deployed his parachute. Although there was a tremendous amount of risk in the expedition, Eustace safely returned to surface after 15 minutes. He says the trip up and back to the surface was amazing. Google’s vice president ended up traveling 135,890 feet, crushing Felix Baumgartner’s record of 128,100 feet.
Believe it or not, this is what StratoStarhelps students do… minus the whole human in space thing. StratoStar lets classrooms travel into the stratosphere using the GoPro cameras attached to a weather balloon – the same cameras that Eustace used for his project. The balloon enters the high altitudes, pops, and returns to the Earth’s surface. Students are then able to retrieve the balloon, data, and video to examine for their own class analysis. Want to know more about how to hold a weather balloon project at your school? Contact usor download our free e-bookson STEM education.