Back in 2012, Felix Baumgartner set the world altitude record for the highest parachute jump. But now, that phenomenal record has been broken by Google’s vice president Alan Eustace. The 57 year old plunged from an altitude of about 135,890 feet falling faster than the speed of sound. He returned to Earth nearly 15 minutes after beginning his fall from the stratosphere.
As he landed, Eustace reached speeds of up to 822 miles per hour. In fact, some people heard a small sonic boom as he descended from his fall. What makes this feat even more remarkable is that he was carried without the aid of any elaborate technology the way Felix Baumgartner was two years ago.
Alan Eustace spent nearly three years developing modest spacesuit designs and parachute technology. He had made it clear from the start that he would take a much simpler approach to this task. Mr. Eustace also teamed up with Taber MacCullum, one of the founding members of Biosphere 2, to create a life-supporting suit. This suit allowed Mr. Eustace to breathe pure oxygen throughout the descent.
However, despite wanting to keep the technology simple there were a few complications involved with the work. Since the stratosphere becomes warmer at higher elevations, Mr. Eustace and his team had to make sure that the suit could keep him cool all the way up in space. Also, in order to prevent any kind of overheating, Mr. Eustace had to keep his movement to a minimum. After he was back on Earth, he explained everything he could see, including the darkness of space and the layers of the atmosphere. This is an experience that Alan Eustace surely will not forget for the rest of his life.