Oct 24, 2014 08:03 PM EDT
Google Senior Vice President Alan Eustice just completed a feat for the record books. Eustice broke Felix Baumgartner's world skydiving altitude record this week when he rode a balloon to a height of over 135,000 feet and then safely made the harrowing journey back to Earth. Eustice smashed Baumgartner's two-year-old record by more than 7,000 feet--that's almost 1.5 miles more than the much-hyped Red Bull jump a couple of years ago.
The mission began before dawn near Roswell, New Mexico. A crew inflated the balloon that would carry Eustice to the upper atmosphere with helium gas while Eustice suited up in a custom-designed space suit made by the Paragon Space Development Corporation, a group known for making life-support systems. Paragon partnered with Eustice on the project, which they called 'StratEx' (standing for Stratospheric Explorer.
According to Wired, the group that oversaw the jump was comprised of less than 20 core members, one of whom was Taber MacCallum. MacCallum explained that what sets their jump apart from Baumgartner's feat is the technology behind it. "On the Red Bull jump, we saw that even one of the best skydivers in the world could not safely bring himself back alone," MacCallum stated. The team overcame the stability problem by creating a stabilizer that is part of the StratEx space suit.
According to Paragon's president, Grant Anderson, this new stabilization technology will allow essentially anyone to perform the same feat safely. No longer will you have to be a dare devil or an astronaut to jump from such heights, or fear spiraling out of control.
MacCallum recently left Paragon to form a new company, World View, and he now plans to turn StratEx into a form of low-orbit tourism by charging those who can afford it to arrange for them to ascend and dive back from space just like Eustice. According to MacCallum, everything is set for World View to begin its new venture: "World View has acquired all the ballooning and stratospheric tech from Paragon."
Paragon also released this statement by Eustice:
"I always wondered: what if you could design a system that would allow humans to explore the stratosphere as easily and safely as they do the ocean? With the help of the world-class StratEx team, I hope we've encouraged others to explore this par of the world about which we still know so little."
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