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Red Bull Stratos saw Felix Baumgartner head into Earth’s Stratosphere, riding in a capsule slung beneath a balloon floating on the edge of space itself. Back on the ground, Felix’s life was in the hands of a team of experts in the fields of aviation, skyding, medicine and space exploration.
So let’s put a few faces to those names and meet the team behind the scenes…
FELIX BAUMGARTNER: Pilot
– First to complete a freefall flight across English Channel using a carbon wing
– Set world records for highest and lowest BASE jumps
With a passion for pushing back boundaries, especially in the air, Felix Baumgartner will be performing the jump from the edge of space. A world-record setting skydiver and BASE jumper, the Austrian 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: Col. (Retired) Sage Cheshire Mission Consultant/Cap Com
Col Joe Kittinger (ret) © Red Bull Content Pool
– Holds the records Felix Baumgartner is trying to break, including highest freefall (102,800 ft/31,333m)
– Honoured 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 metres and jumped to Earth, establishing that it would be possible for humans to survive in space. Following a distinguished career in the USAF, 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 honours. 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
Art Thompson © Red Bull Content Pool
– Member of the team that conceived the B-2 “Stealth” bomber
– Vice president of Sage Cheshire Aerospace, Inc.
Art Thompson has more than 30 years’ experience in aerospace design that has produced such major 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 is responsible for the overall engineering programme. Art’s Sage Cheshire team is building the Red Bull Stratos capsule and developing numerous other vital systems on site.
JONATHAN CLARK, MD, MPH: Medical Director
Jonathan Clark © Red Bull Content Pool
– 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 lectures at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Medical Branch. As Red Bull Stratos medical director, Jon’s job is to look after the health of Felix Baumgartner and to establish new safety protocols for future aviators and astronauts.
MARLE HEWETT, PhD: Program Manager | Senior Flight Test Engineer
Marle Hewett © Red Bull Content Pool
– Former chairman of the U.S. Naval Academy Aerospace Engineering Department
– Former engineer for NASA Dryden Flight Research Center
Dr. Marle Hewett is a senior consulting engineer to the aerospace industry and lecturer at the University of Alabama. A retired US 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
Luke Aikins © Red Bull Content Pool
– 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
Andy Walshe © Red Bull Content Pool
– Known worldwide for helping people and organizations to achieve top
– Former high performance director for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association
Dr. Andy Walshe helps organisations worldwide to explore human potential. The Australian 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.