The capsule that will launch Felix Baumgartner to the edge of space in Red Bull Stratos is a marvel of modern engineering. Find out more about its key facts and figures here.
The pressurised Red Bull Stratos capsule is designed to protect Felix during his ascent. The overall structure of the capsule, which will weigh around 1,315 kilograms fully loaded, can be described in terms of four components – Pressure sphere, Cage, Shell, and Base and Crush Pads.
The pressure sphere contains the capsule instrumentation and is where Felix will be positioned throughout the ascent.
- It is molded from fiberglass and epoxy painted with fireproof paint
- The door and windows are acrylic
- With a diameter of 1.83 metres, the pressure sphere’s interior contains displays, instrument panels, cameras and a chair
- The sphere will be pressurised to .5 bars - equivalent to 4,877 metres above sea level, which will significantly reduce the risk of decompression sickness during the ascent without requiring Felix to inflate his pressure suit.
The cage surrounds the pressure sphere and supports the capsule overall.
- The cage was made by welding together Chrome-Moly (chromium molybdenum) aircraft tubing/pipes
- The strong steel alloy is frequently used in motorsports and aerospace industries
- The cage frame is the point where the capsule attaches to the balloon and it will also bear the load for the parachute system and capsule touchdown.
The shell surrounds the pressure sphere and cage and is the part of the capsule that is visible to the observer.
- The shell is a foam-insulated skin covered in fiberglass and paint, providing protection and insulation in the stratosphere where temperatures near -70° F
- The shell is 3.4 metres high while its base is 2.5 metres in diameter
- The broad, curved base provides a secure step platform on its edge and will help to keep the capsule stable during descent
Base and Crush Pads
The 2.4-metre diameter capsule base is the broadest part of the vessel, providing protection in the form of the base panel and crush pads.
- The base comprises of a five centimetre-thick aluminum honeycomb sandwich panel which protects the capsule from sharp objects during landing and also provides a mounting area for the balloon system control box and other systems such as batteries (the power source for capsule systems and cameras)
- Outside the base are the crush pads, composed of cell-paper honeycomb covered by a fiberglass/epoxy fairing. The crush pads, designed to handle more than 8 Gs on impact, provide shock absorption for the capsule’s parachute landing
- The crush pads are for one-time-only use and must be replaced after every flight
- Engineers performed more than 150 drop tests to develop the crush pads.
Further important information
Why was a capsule chosen instead of an open gondola like Joe Kittinger used in 1960?
In the longer, higher ascent, the hazards of low temperature, oxygen deprivation and low air pressure become exponentially greater.
- Relying on a full pressure suit alone during long-term high-altitude exposure might result in decompression sickness (the bends). The pressurised capsule can provide pressure that will minimize Felix’s chances of developing decompression sickness
- When the suit is inflated, movement is very difficult. The ability to keep the suit uninflated for the long ascent will help to prevent Felix from becoming fatigued before his jump
Who is responsible for the design, development and construction of the capsule?
Sage Cheshire Aerospace, Inc. is designing, building and testing the Red Bull Stratos pressurised capsule. Sage Cheshire offers the best services of leading technical minds in research, advanced composite design, engineering and fabrication to find solutions for a full spectrum of aerospace needs. The company also coordinates other vital aspects of the mission. For more information, please visit: www.sagecheshire.com.
How will the capsule be returned to Earth?
A remote triggering system will release the capsule from the balloon. A recovery parachute will bring it back to Earth.
- More about Red Bull Stratos
- Head to Stratos Mission Control
- More on the Red Bull Stratos Capsule
- Felix Baumgartner the daredevil – in pictures
- Meet the team behind Red Bull Stratos
- Felix Baumgartner's distinguished record