As the incredible Red Bull Stratos mission grows near to realisation, The Stratos mission team today gave the world a first look at the custom camera systems that will record and broadcast Felix Baumgartner’s stratospheric mission later this year. Here they demonstrate how capturing a potentially supersonic freefall from the edge of space in real time and high definition may be one of the most complex elements of the Red Bull Stratos mission.
The unique systems include in-flight cameras mounted on both the capsule and Baumgartner’s space suit. It is hoped that these will not only provide an almost first-hand perspective of what it’s like to bail out in near space and freefall 23 miles above Earth, but also to provide valuable research data.
Capsule Camera System
The Red Bull Stratos capsule is equipped with nine high-definition cameras, three 4K digital cinematography cameras and three high-resolution digital still cameras, all designed to withstand near-vacuum air pressure, ice and extreme heat. Four are space-rated units attached to the exterior base of the vessel, another eight are in pressurized housings also on the exterior, and the remaining three, although positioned on the interior, are space rated to withstand the atmospheric extremes once Baumgartner depressurizes the capsule to step out. Supporting all this is a pressurized electronics “keg” that contains approximately two miles of wiring. The equipment will allow Mission Control to monitor the pilot visually for any signs of decompression sickness, as well as to see what he sees as they communicate via radio. They will also provide viewers with perspectives of the capsule, the skyscape and Baumgartner himself.
Suit Camera System
Some of the most dynamic images will be those captured from Baumgartner’s point of view on his descent. Three small high-definition video cameras will capture three angles of his descent back to Earth. Baumgartner will activate these suit cameras himself, just before he jumps, and, like Baumgartner, they must be able to function in near-space conditions for up to 20 minutes, as well as at the extremes of supersonic speed. Further, the cameras mounted on both his legs and chest must provide useable shots regardless of Baumgartner’s orientation.