WASHINGTON — A Google executive set a new record for the highest parachute jump Oct. 24 with the assistance of several aerospace companies that believe the technologies developed for it have spaceflight applications as well.
Alan Eustace, senior vice president for knowledge at Google, jumped from a balloon at an altitude of approximately 41,400 meters. Eustace was in free fall for more than four and a half minutes, breaking the sound barrier, before deploying a parachute and safely landing more than 100 kilometers from the launch point near Roswell, New Mexico.
Eustace’s flight broke a record for highest altitude parachute jump set two years earlier by Felix Baumgartner, who jumped from an altitude of about 39,000 meters. While Baumgartner’s flight, sponsored by beverage company Red Bull, was heavily promoted and webcast live, Eustace’s jump was not announced until after he landed.
Leading the Stratospheric Explorer team that conducted the jump was Paragon Space Development Corp. of Tucson, Arizona. ILC Dover of Frederica, Delaware, developed the pressure suit Eustace wore, and World View Enterprises of Tucson, which is developing high-altitude balloons for tourism and research applications, provided the balloon that carried him aloft.
Paragon said in a statement announcing the jump that the technology developed for it, including the pressure suit and life-support system, had applications for spaceflight, including allowing emergency crew egress from space vehicles.
“Together, Alan and the team today extended human spaceflight to the stratosphere in an important step to solidify the safety of future human endeavors,” Paragon President and Chief Executive Grant Anderson said in a statement.