You might think that strapping yourself to a weather balloon, soaring to a height of 135,000 feet … and then jumping, sounds like a pretty nutty idea. And you would be right. Yet that’s exactly what Google’s Alan Eustace did in 2014. And here’s the thing — this wasn’t just a stunt. Sure, he may have broken both the sound barrier and the previous records for high-altitude jumps, but Eustace was soaring and jumping in the name of science.
“The motivation was really the science and engineering of trying to decouple the aircraft and the life support system,” says Eustace. “To go up in the stratosphere right now, you have to create your own vehicle to do it; it has to have life support and so on. We wanted to learn if you could build a completely self-sufficient system. That suit can then be used in lots of different ways.”
And why jump…
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