The Red Bull capsule created to carry Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner to an altitude of 120,000 feet for his upcoming freefall mission is ready, developers behind the project said Tuesday.
The 2,900-pound sealed capsule has been under development at Sage Cheshire Aerospace in Lancaster, California, for the past five years and comes complete with a pressured sphere six feet in diameter in which Baumgartner will reside during his 23-mile ascent.
Connected to a helium balloon 150 feet above it, the capsule will climb for three hours before Baumgartner inflates his pressure suit, exits and attempts to break Joe Kittinger’s freefall record of 102,800 feet, which has held for more than 50 years. Unlike Baumgartner, Kittinger relied on an open gondola for his high altitude climb during his 1960 feat.
According to Red Bull, the capsule has undergone several testing evaluations, including altitude chamber testing and egress testing, in order to ensure its ability to accomplish the mission while protecting Baumgartner from the environmental threats encountered at such heights.
Once Baumgartner steps off into freefall and attempts to become the first man to break the speed of sound while in it, the capsule will be released remotely from the helium balloon and will descend back to Earth with the assistance of a recovery parachute.
In addition to serving as a launch pad for Baumgartner’s freefall attempt, the capsule will also collect data during its mission for use in future aerospace research. While Red Bull has not set a specific date or time for the upcoming mission, it could get the green light for the go-ahead as soon as next week.
For more on the capsule and Baumgartner’s feat, check out the video below or view our Stratos Capsule photo gallery.