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  Red Bull Stratos: Felix Baumgartner's 'spacedive' (Page 4)

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Author Topic:   Red Bull Stratos: Felix Baumgartner's 'spacedive'
moorouge
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posted 10-23-2012 02:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All these Kennedy quotes - even me. Bur a word of caution when interpreting them into a fractious context. Take into account the time, the situation and the occasion and then ask yourself what weight to place on the 'Mandy' factor - "But he would say that, wouldn't he?"

mjanovec
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posted 10-23-2012 03:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by YankeeClipper:
How about testing high-altitude survivability and supersonic flight unaided by a vehicle as objectives?

Did Red Bull Stratos specifically state that those were their objectives...or are you just putting words into their mouths?

I don't see any need to test high altitude survivability, since astronauts who have conducted EVAs in the vacuum of space have already demonstrated that ability. If you're referring to possible ejection from a re-entering spacecraft, this "experiment" forgoes the major factor that could limit survivability...namely, the re-entry speed of a spacecraft. (And no, Mach 1.24 doesn't come close to simulating that.)

As for supersonic flight without an aircraft, is that really a valid objective to achieve, from a scientific standpoint? It's a neat accomplishment and highly entertaining (as long as one doesn't go splat on the ground), but scientific? Highly doubtful.

quote:
Originally posted by YankeeClipper:
According to Red Bull Stratos, the support team consisted of nearly 100 top experts recruited from diverse fields of science

Obviously, they needed help from many scientists and engineers to make their mission a success. But that doesn't mean the mission itself was scientific in nature. Professional stuntmen often have to employ science and engineering to be successful. Otherwise, they tend not to live very long.

Here's the litmus test: If the Red Bull Stratos project was really about science, then surely there is no reason to stop after breaking Kittinger's altitude record. If there truly is science to be gained by pushing higher and faster with these jumps, why stop now?

moorouge
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posted 10-23-2012 09:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another thought - how did they measure the speed of the fall? And at what point was the balance between mass and drag reached so that the speed of the fall began to reduce?

I ask because the speed of sound varies greatly depending on temperature and pressure and the height at which Mach 1 was reached needs careful calculation. We have not been told how this was done, only that 833.9 is the answer.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-23-2012 10:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by moorouge:
Another thought - how did they measure the speed of the fall?
Brian Utley with the Contest and Records Board of the National Aeronautic Association, explains:
It was clear from the beginning that GPS was the only practical technology that would provide the necessary data record in the environment of the jumps. But there were a number of challenges.
According to a Red Bull Stratos fact sheet distributed to the media, among the challenges...
...was the fact that the stratospheric environment — and Felix's goal of supersonic speed — were beyond any previous use of GPS for FAI certification. Further, because of U.S. Department of Defense restrictions for security purposes, most GPS devices don't support measurement of altitudes above 60,000 feet.

Once the team selected a GPS system, scrupulous testing was carried out to verify its accuracy. Evaluations included twice dropping an unmanned test pod to simulate manned flight from stratospheric altitudes and comparing the results to those of a Doppler radar.

Utley uses this verified system to retrieve Felix's jump data and, employing software programs that he has created, produces the analysis and reports that are submitted to the NAC and, ultimately, the FAI for "homologation" (certification).

gliderpilotuk
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posted 10-23-2012 10:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
Here's the litmus test: If the Red Bull Stratos project was really about science, then surely there is no reason to stop after breaking Kittinger's altitude record. If there truly is science to be gained by pushing higher and faster with these jumps, why stop now?

Who says "stop"? He didn't just beat JK's height record; he crushed it by 20%. You could say that the litmus test for this being a "stunt" was beating JK's record by one foot, but he didn't - he went way beyond the necessary, with all the incremental risk.

I believe the highest an unmanned balloon has been is around 175,000 feet, so yes, there's still scope for higher jumps but ultimately the payoff between science and risk becomes heavily mono-directional.

328KF
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posted 10-23-2012 10:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The speed and Mach number were offered as preliminary numbers by the FAI official during the post-jump press conference. These folks take their responsibilities quite seriously, and while he did explain that the data would have to be verified as accurate by the organization, I don't think they would make a big claim that was not reasonably based on the evidence in hand.

On future applications for this experimental jump, I think we should step back and see where this goes. There are going to be applications for this technology that we might not immediately see.

The David Clark suit he wore is the latest generation of a design going back to the Gemini days. While the program was not intended to develop an escape option for manned spacecraft, it came along at a time when commercial suborbital spaceflight is becoming closer to reality. There are other companies currently designing pressure suits for passengers on these flights, as will be required by the FAA.

I always found it quite risky that Scaled Composites chose to conduct their SS1 flights without pressure suits. The simplicity of the ship's design I feel led to a complacency about what could go wrong. A popped window, fuselage crack, or failure of the openable nosecone could have immediately killed the pilot. The bailout procedure was understatedly simple, and did not account for the pilot having to remain with the ship, possible under incapacitating G-forces, until at a low enough altitude to survive without a suit.

The Stratos project did responsible incremental testing in a progressive series of jumps from 70K, 92K, then finally 128K. Each of these provided data points on speed, stability, temperature, etc. which helped meet the goals of the program. When added to other data points from other projects and accidents, a suit/ parachute design and escape envelope can be developed which may aid future space travelers.

We knew from Kittenger's jumps that 100,000' was survivable. We knew from an inflight breakup of an SR-71 that 80,000' and Mach 3 were survivable, although it was impossible to know for sure at what speed the crew was ripped out of the aircraft (the ejection seats were not actuated before they blacked out). We now know that 128,000' and supersonic speeds are survivable. We know from the Columbia accident that some upper limit of survivability exists, but where is that?

I think all of this feeds into current and future spacecraft designs. The shuttle itself had an aftertought escape system which was extremely limited in usefulness. It would do no good to put, say, an escape hatch on a suborbital passenger ship without knowing what speed and altitude the crew and passengers could leave through it. I would bet that the folks involved in building these craft and the new suits have payed close attention to Stratos, and can't wait for the test results.

mjanovec
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posted 10-23-2012 11:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by gliderpilotuk:
Who says "stop"? He didn't just beat JK's height record; he crushed it by 20%. You could say that the litmus test for this being a "stunt" was beating JK's record by one foot, but he didn't - he went way beyond the necessary, with all the incremental risk.

He wasn't just aiming to beat Kittinger's record, though. He was also aiming to beat the record for the highest manned balloon flight (122,907 feet) set by Nicholas Piantanida in 1966. Simply put, he was trying to capture as many records as possible in one fell swoop.

Granted, he did surpass Piantanida's flight by roughly 5,200 feet (about 1 mile), but that was done to remove all doubt that he had placed a new record.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 10-23-2012 01:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ah okay, I stand corrected.

YankeeClipper
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posted 10-23-2012 02:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
Did Red Bull Stratos specifically state that those were their objectives...
I've consistently said that this flight was pioneering aerospace exploration, testing limits and pushing an experimental flight envelope.

I'll refer you back to my post on page 3 of this topic on October 18, which was directly transcribed from the Red Bull Stratos Mission webpage on that date.

If you visit the Red Bull Stratos Mission webpage currently and hover over [THE MISSION], you will see the following continue to be stated:

Red Bull Stratos is a scientific mission to 120,000 ft. Jumping from a stratospheric balloon one man will attempt to break the speed of sound in freefall.
The mission webpage also currently states:
Red Bull Stratos seeks to advance scientific discoveries in aerospace for the benefit of mankind.

The purpose of the Red Bull Stratos mission is to transcend human limits.

His successful feat on Oct. 14, 2012 holds the potential to provide valuable medical and scientific research data for future pioneers.

Although researching extremes was part of the program's goals, setting records wasn't the mission's purpose.

Today Felix and his specialized team want to take what was learned from Joe's jumps more than 50 years ago, and combine that with data acquired during Felix's supersonic freefall.

Further, on the Red Bull Stratos Science webpage it states the following:
"Red Bull Stratos medical director Dr. Jonathan Clark, who was the crew surgeon for six Space Shuttle flights, wants to explore the effects of acceleration to supersonic velocity on humans: "We'll be setting new standards for aviation. Never before has anyone reached the speed of sound without being in an aircraft. Red Bull Stratos is testing new equipment and developing the procedures for inhabiting such high altitudes as well as enduring such extreme acceleration. The aim is to improve the safety for space professionals as well as potential space tourists."
On the Red Bull Stratos Scientific Value webpage it states the following:
Red Bull Stratos aims to provide information that will further the progression of aerospace safety. The key benefits for the science community are as follows:

- To aid development of a new generation of space suits - including enhanced mobility and visual clarity - and other systems to lead toward passenger/crew exit from space.

- To aid development of protocols for exposure to high altitude/high acceleration.

- To aid exploration of the effects on the human body of supersonic acceleration and deceleration, including development of the latest innovations in parachute systems.

A lot of hard science was done on the ground before the flight envelope was ever pushed.

By definition, the flight was going to be a test of human high altitude and supersonic survivability - nobody had done this before at that altitude and speed in earth atmosphere and proven that biomechanically this was humanly possible and survivable. Theory is one thing, proof another.

The flight parameter data increases the knowledge base about human stratospheric flight. Who knows what vehicle flight profiles will be flown in the future and where this may be applicable? Preliminary aerospace research made Kittinger's flights possible, which made Baumgartner flights possible, which in turn will make future flights possible at higher altitudes. All of this helps characterize and define the human flight envelope and its limits.

quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
Here's the litmus test: If the Red Bull Stratos project was really about science, then surely there is no reason to stop after breaking Kittinger's altitude record. If there truly is science to be gained by pushing higher and faster with these jumps, why stop now?
From the Red Bull Stratos Mission webpage:
Although researching extremes was part of the program's goals, setting records wasn't the mission's purpose.
The stated mission profile was to 120,000ft and supersonic freefall speed, and they reached and surpassed those limits. If this was really about records then they would have gone again for the longest freefall time record.

Perhaps Red Bull Stratos will redefine a new objective in future. However they will need a new test subject as Baumgartner has indicated he is not willing to risk another such high altitude flight. There is also the matter of funding - Robert Goddard's pioneering rocket flights were, in part, possible because Buzz Aldrin's father secured support from Charles Lindbergh and Daniel Guggenheim, and the funding was curtailed because of the 1930s Depression.

Are you willing to put your mouth, your neck, and your money on the line? Thought not!

David Carey
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posted 10-23-2012 02:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Carey   Click Here to Email David Carey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not trying to promote or dismiss any of the perspectives voiced, but here is a Yale physicist's take on the dive.

For the record I watched the event, whatever one wishes to call it, with interest and excitement.

YankeeClipper
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posted 10-23-2012 05:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by David Carey:
Not trying to promote or dismiss any of the perspectives voiced, but here is a Yale physicist's take on the dive.
Meg Urry's dismissive article is that of a physics professor operating from behind the sheltered walls of Ivy League/Ivory Tower academia.

For someone so educated, I found her analysis to be shallow, glib, naive, and contemptuous toward the entire Stratos Project. I very much doubt she has any practical subject matter expertise in the fields of high altitude flight or aerospace medicine. She effectively insulted the project team by her insinuation that all these technical experts had been engaged for years on a "PT Barnum" stunt with little real value. I'm glad she was never one of my lecturers.

Connecticut is not New Mexico, theory is not practice, and wind tunnel/computer modeling is not actual stratospheric flight.

Meg Urry is no Robert Goddard, thankfully!

[On Edit]: The (mainly negative) comments under the article are actually more interesting than the article itself.

I reckon the funniest is this one

"Who cares? It's not like the Red Bull pure physics research budget is being dangerously diverted toward frivolous purposes, while the Red Bull Particle Collider falls into disrepair!"

mjanovec
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posted 10-23-2012 08:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by YankeeClipper:
The mission webpage also currently states:
The purpose of the Red Bull Stratos mission is to transcend human limits.

That sounds like another way of saying breaking records.

quote:
Originally posted by YankeeClipper:
Although researching extremes was part of the program's goals, setting records wasn't the mission's purpose.

It's interesting that they stopped doing jumps as soon as the three biggest records were broken (highest manned balloon altitude, highest altitude jump, and fastest freefall). Apparently there was some elusive scientific reason to jump at 128,000 feet and break the speed of sound, but not go any higher or faster.

Look, I admire Baumgartner and his team for what they accomplished. As an adventure in pushing the limits, it was very interesting and highly entertaining. But the effort to paint the program as scientific research is a stretch, at best.

moorouge
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posted 10-24-2012 02:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the explanation of how they were intending to measure the speed Robert.

However, I'd still like to know at what altitude he reached the claimed 833 mph and when atmospheric drag began to slow him down.

YankeeClipper
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posted 10-24-2012 06:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
Apparently there was some elusive scientific reason to jump at 128,000 feet and break the speed of sound, but not go any higher or faster.
I suspect that it may have had something to do with what author Tom Wolfe described in The Right Stuff as the enormity of the:
"moment when the Halusian Gulp is opening"
or as philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote:
"when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you."
Ultimately, whatever psychological demons Felix confronted at altitude they were enough to stop him going again, ever.

As an aside, if this really was a stunt then Felix completely fluffed his lines and blew the moneyshot as he stood on the edge of the capsule about to jump into the history books with millions of people watching live around the world.

I can just imagine some Red Bull marketing exec clenching his fists and shouting at the TV - "Come on Felix, say the line, say the line, SAY THE LINE!!"

"Red Bull gives you wiiiiings! Whahey!"

gliderpilotuk
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posted 10-24-2012 08:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Baumgartner was interviewed on BBC Newsnight last night. He made this out to be primarily a personal challenge that happened to have scientific spinoffs. I suspect he approached Red Bull, who have a penchant for adventure (check out some of the glider escapades on YouTube), and they took up the sponsorship. The science followed.

I still hold that it was more than a stunt.

YankeeClipper
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posted 10-24-2012 09:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by gliderpilotuk:
Baumgartner was interviewed on BBC Newsnight last night.
The 5 min interview with Felix can be seen on BBC Newsnight

Remove the science from this endeavour and Felix would not have gone supersonic in jeans/t-shirt/flip-flops from a party balloon floating over his back garden.

Certainly it was a personal challenge - he also makes clear it was about pushing the limits, testing the possible, and aerospace safety research.

garymilgrom
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posted 10-24-2012 09:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by YankeeClipper:
Meg Urry's dismissive article is that of a physics professor operating from behind the sheltered walls of Ivy League/Ivory Tower academia.
That's a very dismissive statement itself. Meg is professor of physics and astronomy and chairwoman of the department of physics at Yale University, where she is the director of the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics. I think academia has an important role to play in scientific research.

I believe her assessment is accurate. In my opinion this was a stunt driven by marketing dollars, not science. Just because Red Bull talks about "scientific reasons" in their publicity doesn't mean they are true.

Red Bull have achieved great success with their innovative marketing activities. This takes nothing away from the bravery shown by Mr. Baumgartner but I believe the main reason they did this was to sell more product.

Jurg Bolli
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posted 10-24-2012 12:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jurg Bolli   Click Here to Email Jurg Bolli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with the latest post.

YankeeClipper
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posted 10-24-2012 01:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by garymilgrom:
That's a very dismissive statement itself.
I stand by what I wrote and I'm not particularly impressed by academic titles. Meg Urry's analysis was superficial, condescending, and involved supposition indicating that she didn't treat the subject with any real respect. She professes online to be interested in inspiring and educating young students yet most people in the article comments thought that she did the exact opposite. They didn't care for her elitist tone either. She may have expertise from NASA in galactic black holes but that is not high altitude aeronautics or the aerospace medicine of NASA's Dr. Jon Clark. A number of scientifically trained people took exception to her article in the comments. One scientist/skydiver (Bob Lewis) actually offered to pay for her jump ticket so she could get some practical real-world aeronautical insight.

At no point did I indicate that academic scientific research was not important or valuable. It is. But academic research and modelling in the lab can only simulate real world conditions to a limited degree. At some point a good researcher is required to vacate the lab and prove their research under real conditions in the field. That is the true proof of theoretical research.

quote:
Originally posted by garymilgrom:
I believe her assessment is accurate. In my opinion this was a stunt driven by marketing dollars, not science.
I think you'll find the predominant driving force was gravitational acceleration and the predominant considerations were thermodynamical, fluid mechanical, and biomechanical in nature. The sponsors were facilitators of the science no doubt, but without the science Felix wasn't going to explore any flight envelope.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-24-2012 01:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Declan, just because an activity requires science (or more specifically, technology and engineering) to accomplish, or that the end results are of interest to scientists or produce scientific results, does not make it a scientific activity.

NASCAR races require science and produce scientific results. NASA physiologists and engineers has studied NASCAR technology for future spacecraft crew safety systems. That doesn't mean NASCAR is a scientific activity.

Felix Baumgartner jumped out of a balloon-lofted gondola to break records. His driving force wasn't to explore the science of upper atmosphere physics or physiology.

That the scientists he enlisted to achieve his own goals were also able to derive data for their own areas of study, and add those to the project's overall outcome does not change the fact that the primary goal was to break records.

Here's the very simple litmus test:

Had Baumgartner failed to set a single record but collected data in the process, would Red Bull Stratos have been declared a success? No, clearly not.

But had Baumgartner broke the records (as he did) but the scientific data that was collected had been somehow corrupted or lost in the process, would the project have been declared a failure? Clearly no.

It's clear your hang-up is on the term stunt. I personally don't think there should be any negative connotation to that label in this context, but I'll grant you others might. So how about feat?

Baumgartner's feat was a triumph in applying modern technology to match and surpass a 50 year old record. In doing so, additional and new data was collected, which will be of value to the scientific community.

YankeeClipper
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posted 10-25-2012 10:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
That doesn't mean NASCAR is a scientific activity.
Robert, you and Meg Urry seem keen to draw a distinction between pure and applied science. NASCAR is the epitome of applied science (the application of scientific knowledge transferred into a physical environment). A lot of the world's leading experts in automotive science work within NASCAR, IndyCar, FIA Formula 1, and WRC. Don't take my word for it - let's ask both NASCAR and the National Science Foundation:

NASCAR

Inside NASCAR - The Science Of The Tandem Draft

Particular highlights were the insistence that Newtonian Mechanics are behind every decision engineers make in NASCAR, and the section on wind tunnels and computational fluid dynamics models and their fallibility (Meg Urry take note!).

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

US NSF - The Science Of Speed

"You can't win NASCAR races without getting the science right. NASCAR teams push science to its limits to eke out the tenths or hundredths of a second that separate the winner from the also-rans. This video series uses the elements of NASCAR to show that a racecar really is a science experiment on wheels."
So why is it that universities are issuing degrees in sport science, human performance science etc.? Why is it that so much sport seems to be more about science than anything with the use of hypoxic training in tents and at altitude, nutrition, material science, gait analysis, biomarker analysis, biosensors, biomechanics etc.

What is sport actually about? Beating your opponent? Winning? Setting records? Survival in extreme sports? Sport is a substitute for warfare (the origins of the Olympic Games lie in military disciplines). Warfare is not about winning - it is about surviving and being less incapacitated than your enemy. There are no winners on a battlefield, just survivors. No one is setting records. It is first and foremost a test of survival. Formula 1 and NASCAR drivers used to get killed in high numbers until advances in science intervened to enable drivers to push limits and still survive.

The forces of nature and laws of physics don't care one iota about human records. Gene Kranz said it best on NASA's Greatest Missions:

"Space is basically a test of survival - our ability to invent things that will allow us to use very limited resources."
Baumgartner's flight was fundamentally a test of survival and, therefore, a test of the science that enabled him to survive and will enable others to survive.
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Felix Baumgartner jumped out of a balloon-lofted gondola to break records ... the primary goal was to break records.
The primary goal was to survive supersonic flight from 120,000ft. Human records were very much secondary to that primary mission objective.

The flight was pioneering aerospace exploration, pushing an experimental flight envelope and applied science to its limits.

It shouldn't be degraded by Meg Urry with dismissive descriptions like "human cannonball descent" equating it to a mere circus stunt and positioning it as something that has no "higher purpose" and impedes "genuine progress in science and engineering". As if pure science is somehow more real or important or noble than applied science.

Gene Kranz also said in NASA's Greatest Missions:

"The power of space was to raise our aspirations to those things that are possible if we will commit."
Felix Baumgartner's flight did that, Meg Urry's article most definitely did not.

(At this point I see no benefit of having an endless circular debate so we'll agree on some points and disagree on others)

garymilgrom
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posted 10-25-2012 12:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With all due respect Yankee I think you've defeated your own argument with your auto racing analogy.

I work in NASCAR and I can assure you that its main goal is marketing. The sport is designed to sell product by associating it with winning personalities and automobiles. It doesn't matter if the product is soap, cereal or the US Army - all use NASCAR to market their products.

Do the engineers use science to go fast? Yes.
Does that make the sport a scientific activity? No.

Jay Chladek
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posted 10-25-2012 01:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One thing I'll say is I don't believe a windtunnel study of a suit travelling at supersonic speeds is going to accomplish much unless somebody living is IN that suit. Plus, something tested in a wind tunnel is usually bolted down, so it is kind of difficult to measure the behavior of said object or person in freefall. Besides, if wind tunnels gave us ALL the answers, there would be no need for practical flight testing... but we still flight test anyway because the real world introduces factors that can't always be accounted for in the laboratory environment.

Regardless of what term best describes Felix's dive (and frankly, I think any single word describing or dismissing such an event is too simple for something with a high level of complication), to me it helped fulfill a longing that I hadn't felt for something that seemed cool and worth while since July of last year.

Personally, I could care less about the Red Bull product. I don't drink it as it tastes kind of disgusting (unless one drinks it very cold). But, I will concede that they are different from other marketing driven companies. Red Bull maintains an air museum/restaurant in Europe and helps to restore rare aircraft to flying status (something considered more of a money pit than marketing). For someone like me who is a fan of all things aviation, I have to respect that.

Red Bull doesn't really do anything different than what Richard Branson did when he built a boat to try to set the atlantic crossing record or do the circumnavigation balloon flights in the 1980s and 90s (culminating with a few failed attempts at circumnavigating the globe). All those endeavors had his "Virgin" brand splashed across it.

It seems ultimately that a science gathering endeavor or a record setting expedition for pure science sake doesn't really happen anymore. Many of the greatest expeditions of the 20th century required financial backing (with explorers like Shackleton having to do campaigning for funds himself). Charles Lindberg had to put together a team of St. Louis businessmen to finance construction of his airplane for the Atlantic crossing (with a goal of winning the Orteig prize, a financial incentive). The X-Prize was a similar impetus for the development of Spaceship One. The missions to the moon required something more than somebody saying "we can do it" as it needed a justification to do so (to beat the Soviets). The military has plenty of their own justifications for doing the research they do and Kittenger didn't do his balloon flights to just set records.

Given that tax dollars aren't as forthcoming for pure science projects these days, we may have to get used to the fact that if any future records are broken or new exciting missions are flown, it will likely be the Red Bulls, Virgins and SpaceXs (and Jim Camerons) who are going to be funding such projects more so than government agencies, unless the agencies can come up with some justification for them that gets their financial backers (i.e. Congress) to foot the bill.

So Felix Baumgartner's skydive I believe is the shape of things to come... like it or not.

YankeeClipper
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posted 10-25-2012 02:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by garymilgrom:
I think you've defeated your own argument with your auto racing analogy. I work in NASCAR and I can assure you that its main goal is marketing.
And I've worked in a medical role in auto racing and can remind you that the science is applied directly on the track every 1/1000th sec from the tyre compounds, fuels, carbon fiber monocoques to the engines, brakes, suspension, gearboxes through to the NOMEX suits, HANS devices, timing systems etc.

quote:
Originally posted by garymilgrom:
The sport is designed to sell product by associating it with winning personalities and automobiles.
Dead drivers don't have winning personalities. Strip science out of the sport and you're back to racing Model T Fords along a dirt track.

Doesn't matter whether you're "in the wall" or "bouncing", at the end of the day sponsors prefer the sponsored to have a pulse and a vehicle that can still perform.

tegwilym
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posted 10-25-2012 04:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stunt, science, or a way to break a record. I don't really care. It was just the most tense, exciting thing I've seen on live TV since SpaceShipOne claimed the X-Prize!

328KF
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posted 10-25-2012 07:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While discussing his growing frustration with the slow progress of SpaceShipTwo, Sir Richard Branson hinted that he might be interested in trying to break Felix's new record:
"The technology of space travel and exploration is moving forwards every day, and we look forward to taking on new challenges as we move closer towards commercial space flight. Who knows, the next record leap could one day be from Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.

Haven't had a challenge myself for a while. Could be fun for Virgin to give Red Bull a run for their money."

AJ
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posted 10-25-2012 08:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AJ   Click Here to Email AJ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by YankeeClipper:
For someone so educated, I found her analysis to be shallow, glib, naive, and contemptuous toward the entire Stratos Project.
I'm sorry, but I have to say I find your attitude towards this article and the author to be incredibly rude, simply because you didn't like what she had to say. She is entitled to her opinion, just as you are yours. You seem especially condescending, for reasons I can't fathom.

Whether you like her opinion or not, Meg Urry is a phenomenally gifted scientist. Your attitude towards the Ivy League and the comment about an ivory tower are, frankly, rude. I don't know if you've ever spent time at an Ivy League school, but I have and the students and faculty have been, in my experience, kind, fiercely intelligent, and genuinely enthusiastic about sharing knowledge.

I appreciate your enthusiasm for Felix Baumgartner's jump and I share a lot of that with you. I just don't understand where you are coming from in some of your comments.

moorouge
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posted 10-26-2012 02:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Jumping from a sub-orbital/orbital vehicle raises some intriguing possibilities.

For one, Baumgartner's speed record would instantly be broken because of the forward velocity. [In the case of a sub-orbital flight this would be in the order of 5000mph.] One has to assume that there would have to be a considerable improvement in the space suit to combat thermal heating generated by this speed with the addition of ablative protection. Quite a technological challenge.

garymilgrom
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From: Atlanta, GA, USA
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posted 10-26-2012 05:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by YankeeClipper:
science is applied directly on the track every 1/1000th sec from the tyre compounds, fuels, carbon fiber monocoques to the engines, brakes, suspension, gearboxes through to the NOMEX suits, HANS devices, timing systems etc.

I couldn't agree more but that does not make the purpose of the acitivity science. The purpose of NASCAR is entertainment! The marketing dollars brought in by the entertainment allow the engineers to practice their science! It doesn't start with a research investigation, it starts with a sponsorship proposal about getting a brand in front of X faces for Y dollars.

By your standards everything done by humans - watching TV, going potty, cooking dinner - is a scientific activity. We fry an egg to learn about thermodynamics, we drink wine to learn about anti-oxidants. Everything, even sitting still in a chair, involves some science and is therefore a scientific acitivy? I do not agree.

And your statements about dead drivers are incredibly rude and insulting, doubly so as the company I manage has saved hundreds of lives and prevented thousands of injuries. We're now working with NASA on crew restraints - can you tell me if NASA likes people with pulses? We don't understand complex scientific problems like that.

(At this point I see no benefit of having an endless circular debate so I'll agree that we disagree on all points)

moorouge
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posted 10-27-2012 05:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Science or stunt? It would seem that we have the answer from Baumgartner himself. In a reported interview in New York he said,
So I think we should perhaps spend all the money [which is] going to Mars to learn about Earth. I mean, you cannot send people there because it is just too far away. That little knowledge we get from Mars I don't think makes sense.
This quote was given in an interview with a reporter from the Daily Telegraph (a UK newspaper) during which Baumgartner said also that the U.S. government should divert money from the NASA space budget for Mars to environmental projects on Earth.

Referencing Richard Branson's recent comments he said, "It sounds like he wants to use our positive momentum and gain publicity on his side and that is kind of lame."

Both comments, to me, are hardly those of a scientist interested in pure research.

issman1
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posted 10-27-2012 05:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The jump was daring but those comments about NASA and Virgin Galactic are naive to the point of being ridiculous.

Poor Felix must not know that the NASA budget is minute compared to what other US government agencies receive. Or that Branson is financing his suborbital operation out of his own pocket - as if he even needs the publicity unlike Felix.

cycleroadie
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posted 10-27-2012 07:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cycleroadie   Click Here to Email cycleroadie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Someone should tell Felix that NASA already does do a lot of research about our own planet.

YankeeClipper
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From: Dublin, Ireland
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posted 10-27-2012 11:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by AJ:
I find your attitude towards this article and the author to be incredibly rude, simply because you didn't like what she had to say.
The Red Bull Stratos Project provided her with a perfect opportunity to celebrate the physics and leave it at that. Instead she chose to insinuate that "the pocket-protector crowd", despite being "well educated", had effectively wasted their time on a "PT Barnum" "human cannonball" "stunt" that had no "higher purpose" and, worse, may have crowded out "genuine progress in science and engineering".

That is pretty arrogant, dismissive, condescending and uninspiring coming from a science educator and directed at professionals pushing an experimental flight envelope and the boundaries of human knowledge.

The pilot-in-command/test subject and the "technical experts" deliberately chose to participate in the project in the full knowledge of what it entailed and the associated risks. She insinuates that testing human survivability during supersonic freefall and the effects of such acceleration and deceleration on the human body under real-word conditions are, somehow, less worthy objectives than other types of science.

She suggested that "computers... powerful enough to simulate physical reality" or "tests in a wind tunnel or a freezer would suffice" to develop pressure suits yet we know from other disciplines that modelling is limited and reality in the stratosphere can be significantly different to artificial reality.

She suggested that "perhaps a bigger danger was that for the first 35 seconds, Baumgartner was tumbling out of control.". Preliminary review of the footage does not support that assertion. The exit appeared stable and in control, and the departure from controlled flight occurred later in the region of maximum speed.

A skydiver relies upon a combination of vision, kinesthesia, and proprioception to maintain stable flight attitudes. However at extreme altitude absent the normal visual references, and in thin air and in a pressure suit Felix could not feel the air against his limbs nor use them as normal control surfaces. In addition his extremely high rate of descent meant that he was having perceptual problems making corrective inputs fast enough to counteract spin. It's a completely different altitude, speed, cognitive load, g load, impact medium, and risk level to that of "precision divers ... in the London Olympics last summer". There is simply no comparison between a supersonic freefall in a pressure suit and on supplemental oxygen from 39,045m lasting minutes and an acrobatic dive in speedos into a warm swimming pool from a 10m platform lasting seconds, and to do so serves only to trivialise the former.

AJ
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posted 10-27-2012 03:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AJ   Click Here to Email AJ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't intend to argue with you. I think your comments were needlessly rude and insulting. However, I can see that you don't particularly want to listen to what other people have to say on the subject. It might be best for all to put the question to rest and agree to disagree.

YankeeClipper
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From: Dublin, Ireland
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posted 10-28-2012 07:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by garymilgrom:
I couldn't agree more but that does not make the purpose of the activity science. The purpose of NASCAR is entertainment!
NASCAR is ultimately about automotive supremacy - fast cars, fast drivers, and high performance science applied live on the track. The science is what allows drivers push the limits and survive to push them again, or as NASCAR puts it "close, safe competition". "All Show and No Go" is pointless, doesn't push limits, doesn't entertain, and doesn't sell anything.

Which reminds me to post the link to this: Formula 1 - Alonso: We have to fight Red Bull genius

Fernando Alonso believes he is having to contend with the genius of Red Bull's chief technical officer Adrian Newey just as much as he is with Sebastian Vettel.
quote:
Originally posted by garymilgrom:
By your standards everything done by humans - watching TV, going potty, cooking dinner - is a scientific activity.
The discussion began with supersonic freefall, morphed into auto racing, and is now being extrapolated erroneously. When is the last time while watching TV, going potty, or cooking dinner, you had a team of qualified engineers conducting multi-parametric data acquisition/analysis in real-time on you and your state-of-the-art materials and using the data to keep you alive and your equipment performing at world class levels?
quote:
Originally posted by garymilgrom:
And your statements about dead drivers are incredibly rude and insulting, doubly so as the company I manage has saved hundreds of lives and prevented thousands of injuries.
My point made exactly, that the safety science of the HANS device/restraint has greatly reduced the incidence of driver basal skull fractures and cervical spine trauma, thus allowing drivers survive otherwise fatal collisions and race again.

But people should remember that this topic is about Red Bull Stratos and surviving supersonic freefall from 120,000ft.

canyon42
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Posts: 188
From: Ohio
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 10-28-2012 08:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for canyon42   Click Here to Email canyon42     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thankfully, it's pretty rare that a thread on this forum manages to veer so far off that it becomes not only pointless but also borderline offensive. Unfortunately, this one has jumped the shark completely...

YankeeClipper
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Posts: 240
From: Dublin, Ireland
Registered: Mar 2011

posted 10-28-2012 09:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by AJ:
I don't intend to argue with you. I think your comments were needlessly rude and insulting.
Agreed, I could have written them differently.

My comments were harsh and so was her article.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 11-02-2012 05:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
BBC 2 this Sunday at 8:30pm:
Space Dive
Duration: 1 hour, 30 minutes

In this one-off documentary, Space Dive tells the behind-the-scenes story of Felix Baumgartner's historic, record-breaking freefall from the edge of space to Earth.

The world watched with bated breath when Felix became the first person to freefall through the sound barrier on 15 October 2012, after jumping from 128,100ft (24 miles) from the edge of space.

Space Dive features footage, which until now has been kept closely under wraps, from cameras attached to Felix, as he broke through the sound barrier. The documentary follows Felix as he underwent years of training under the watchful eye of 82-year-old colonel Joe Kittinger, the man who set the original record when he fell 19 miles to Earth (102,000 feet) 50 years ago, since which two men died in similar attempts.

During Felix's intense physical training, the cameras capture the basejumper as he struggles to overcome a severe claustrophic reaction to the movement-restricting pressure suit, and how the mission came close to aborting in the final stages of the ascent, and saw just how close Felix came to spinning and tumbling to unconsciousness during the jump.

mach3valkyrie
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Posts: 281
From: Albany, Oregon USA
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 11-02-2012 04:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mach3valkyrie   Click Here to Email mach3valkyrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Where and when did the balloon and gondola/capsule return to earth? Just wondering if they've been recovered.

Jay Chladek
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Posts: 2250
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 11-02-2012 06:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The capsule was jettisoned for its return parachute ride shortly after Felix was recovered. I saw footage of it coming down in the live broadcast as Felix was getting slapped on the back. As for the balloon itself, I don't think those balloons necessarily ever get recovered, although I could be wrong. The are pretty much useless as a balloon at that point and I suppose would get recycled if somebody did find them.


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