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Red Bull Stratos Technical Project Director
Art Thompson possesses more than 30 years of experience in innovating leading-edge design that has produced major breakthroughs in aerospace history, including development of the B-2 “Stealth” bomber.
As technical project director for Red Bull Stratos, Art drives engineering program management and has also been responsible for selecting and assembling the global mission team and securing equipment and facilities. He is Felix Baumgartner’s right-hand man and earliest collaborator.
A California native, Art studied engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles and also attended the University of La Verne and Northrop University. While working for Northrop Corporation in the late 1970s, he and a small contingent of engineers (working under Dr. John Cashen and Fred Oshira and using an original design concept by Irv Waaland) brainstormed ideas and methods for military aircraft that could avoid radar detection. The Northrop team went from drawing napkin sketches and conceptualizing ideas and shapes to conceiving the design that the Department of Defense chose to develop into the B-2 Spirit.
Today Art is vice president of Sage Cheshire Aerospace, Inc. which he co-founded in Lancaster, California, more than 10 years ago. The company provides solutions for a complete range of aerospace needs, from initial design and engineering to finished product, with an experienced team of professionals hand-picked by Art himself.
Art is instrumental in coordinating the efforts of the global mission team to meet all production, testing and implementation milestones. Further, his Sage Cheshire crew is responsible for the design, construction and testing of Felix’s capsule, and the facility serves as the hub of mission technological development overall.
FELIX BAUMGARTNER: Pilot
– First to complete freefall flight across English Channel using a carbon wing
– Set world records for highest and lowest BASE jumps
With a passion for expanding boundaries, especially in the air, Felix
Baumgartner will execute the jump from the edge of space. A world-recordsetting
skydiver and BASE jumper, the Austrian native is licensed to pilot gas
balloons as well as private and commercial helicopters. Best known for
becoming the first person to complete a freefall flight across the English
Channel wearing a carbon wing (2003), Felix has been nominated for a World
Sports Award and two categories in the NEA Extreme Sports Awards.
JOE KITTINGER: Colonel USAF (Retired), Mission Consultant
– Holds the records Felix Baumgartner is trying to break, including highest
freefall (102,800 ft/31,333m)
– Honored by the Smithsonian for lifetime achievement in aviation
On August 16, 1960, Joe Kittinger made history as he ascended to 102,800
feet/31,333 meters and jumped to Earth, establishing that it would be possible for
humans to survive in space. Following a distinguished USAF career, Joe set two
world ballooning records, and he has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement in
Aviation trophy from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, among
many other honors. Joe shares his knowledge to help address the challenges of
Red Bull Stratos, and as “Capcom” (capsule communications) he will be Mission
Control’s primary radio contact with Felix Baumgartner during ascent.
ART THOMPSON: Technical Project Director
– Was a member of the team that conceived the B-2 “Stealth” bomber
– Vice president of Sage Cheshire Aerospace, Inc.
Art Thompson possesses more than 30 years of experience in innovating design
that has produced such major aerospace milestones as the B-2 “Stealth”
bomber. Today, Art is vice president of Sage Cheshire Aerospace, Inc., the hub
of technological activity for Red Bull Stratos. As technical project director, he has
hand-picked the mission’s extraordinary team, and he oversees and drives
engineering program management overall. Art’s Sage Cheshire team is building
the Red Bull Stratos capsule and developing numerous other vital systems on
JONATHAN CLARK, MD, MPH: Medical Director
– Six-time Space Shuttle crew surgeon
– Space medicine advisor for the National Space Biomedical Research
One of the most distinguished figures in aerospace medicine, Dr. Jonathan
Clark is a six-time Space Shuttle crew surgeon who served in top roles at
Johnson Space Center. He currently teaches at Baylor College of Medicine and
the University of Texas Medical Branch. In the leadership role of Red Bull
Stratos medical director, Jon works to protect the health of Felix Baumgartner
and to establish new safety protocols for future aviators and astronauts.
MARLE HEWETT, PhD: Program Manager and Senior Flight Test Engineer
– Former chairman of the U.S. Naval Academy Aerospace Engineering
– Former engineer for NASA Dryden Flight Research Center
Dr. Marle Hewett is a senior consulting engineer to the aerospace industry and
teaches for the University of Alabama, Huntsville. A retired Navy Commander,
Marle was chairman of the U.S. Naval Academy’s Aerospace Engineering
Department and subsequently was an engineer for facilities including NASA
Dryden Flight Research Center. He coordinates Red Bull Stratos operations
and directs procedures for testing and, ultimately, launch.
MIKE TODD: Life Support Engineer
– Nearly three decades on life support team at Lockheed’s “Skunk Works”
– Fitted pressure suits for record-setting Perlan glider project
Mike Todd worked in Lockheed’s High Altitude Life Support and Pressure Suit
Division, and he fitted pressure suits for Steve Fossett and Einar Enevoldson’s
record-breaking Perlan Project. As the Red Bull Stratos life support engineer,
Mike is responsible for the pressure suit (engineering, system design,
coordination, operation, handling, oxygen components, and fitting and field
support) and how it functions in conjunction with other mission components.
LUKE AIKINS: Skydiving Consultant
– Set three world skydiving records
– Member of Safety and Training Advisor team for U.S. Parachute Association
A professional skydiver with a history of tackling unusual aviation challenges,
Luke Aikins is one of the designated Safety and Training Advisors for the U.S.
Parachute Association. As a member of the Red Bull Stratos team, Luke designs
Felix Baumgartner’s airborne training sessions, personally launches simulation
jumps, and focuses on Felix’s chest pack, parachute and drogue chute setups.
ANDY WALSHE, PhD: High Performance Director
– Known worldwide for helping people and organizations to achieve top
– Former high performance director for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard
Dr. Andy Walshe helps organizations worldwide to explore human potential.
The Australian native is director of high performance for Red Bull global athlete
development and previously designed the performance program for the U.S.
Olympic ski and snowboard teams. He provides high performance support for
the entire Red Bull Stratos team, particularly Felix Baumgartner.