Red Bull Stratos: How Do You Document a Freefall From 120,000 Feet Up?

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Felix Baumgartner is expected to jump out of a gondola from the Earth’s stratosphere – roughly 23 miles or 120,000 feet high. The Red Bull Stratos Project was first announced in January but a jump date wasn’t announced until recently. Baumgartner, a professional skydiver and BASE jumper, will not only break the free fall record previously set by Joe Kittinger in 1960 and if all goes well, Felix will break the speed of sound if successful. The record breaking attempt will happen sometime between September 20 and December 31. You can read more about it here.

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The whole project will be documented and broadcast using three Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLRs, nine HD cameras and three 4K digital rigs. Both the capsule and Baumgartner will be outfitted with HD cameras to document everything. Four of the 15 cameras are space-rated and will be mounted the exterior of the capsule. Eight others will be in pressurized housings on the outside. A pressured electronic “keg” with two miles of wiring will keep things in order. Christian Pondella has suggested the team use a 14mm wide-angle lens to capture Felix’s exit from the capsule and a 64GB flash card.

Baumgartner will have three HD cameras on his person – one on each thigh and one mounted on his chest. He’ll activate these before he starts his jump, which is expected to last roughly 5 minutes and 35 seconds.

(More: Video: Joe Kittinger’s 102,800 ft Descent)

And here’s a slew of facts provided by Red Bull on the in-flight camera system:

• There’s approximately two miles of wiring in the pressurized “keg” that supports the Red Bull Stratos cameras.

• The “crush pads” on the base of the Red Bull Stratos capsule are designed to absorb up to 8 Gs of impact to protect equipment including the camera systems – as well as Felix Baumgartner himself should an urgent situation require him to descend in the capsule.

• A typical satellite uplink truck has one or two channels of microwave video. The Red Bull Stratos capsule has three.

• With a combined total of 15 in-flight HD cameras, the Red Bull Stratos capsule and Felix Baumgartner’s pressure suit have more HD cameras than most 45-foot television production trucks.

• Special filters are used on some of the Red Bull Stratos cameras because the brightness of the sun is more intense in the upper stratosphere.

• The Red Bull Stratos camera housings are designed to withstand intense heat on the sunny side while sustaining temperatures far below freezing on the shadow side.

• It is anticipated that some of the cameras inside the Red Bull Stratos capsule will be covered in ice when the vessel touches back down on Earth.

• The microphones inside the Red Bull Stratos capsule will record sound only as long as there is air to carry the soundwaves. When Felix Baumgartner depressurizes the capsule (just before he jumps), those ambient microphones in the capsule will stop picking up sound. (This will not, however, affect the microphone in Baumgartner’s helmet.)

• The electronic “keg” will house High Definition RAM recorders, Camera Control Units, Routers, 3 Video Transmitters, Telemetry Computer, and a sophisticated electrical system to power everything.

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