TUCSON, (AZ) (October 24, 2017) Three years ago today, former Google executive Alan Eustace, supported by Paragon Space Development Corporation® (Paragon) and its StratEX team, dropped from a high-altitude balloon straight into history. With that record-setting jump Eustace helped usher in a new era of space flight: one that is open not just to governments, but also to visionary companies and individuals who set out to achieve what once was deemed impossible. Eustace’s jump broke several world records that still stand today, including that for the highest exit altitude (135,898 ft); freefall under a drogue chute; and the national record for vertical speed (820 mph). He also became the second person in history to intentionally break the sound barrier outside an aircraft.
Since this historic jump, commercial space flight has become one of the fastest growing segments in the aerospace industry.
His journey began with a question: Is it possible to develop a system that would allow humans to explore the stratosphere as easily and safely as they do the ocean? Paragon said yes.
“I see the curvature of the Earth and the darkness of Space and its awe-inspiring“ said Eustace during his historic dive. He later elaborated: “I’m incredibly proud of this team and their unwavering commitment to safety, and advancing the science and technology of stratospheric exploration.”
A movie about the effort, “14 Minutes from Earth” by Atomic Entertainment, premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City and is available for download. The StratEx self-contained suit and recovery system were unveiled at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia last December. Alan Eustace and the StratEx Mission will be featured in an upcoming “Risk Takers” episode in 2018 on Smithsonian Channel’s SERIOUSLY AMAZING OBJECTS program where viewers will get behind-the-scenes insight into the program.
“We are happy that Alan and the StratEx mission are getting recognized for their significance in pushing the boundaries of space exploration,” said Grant Anderson, President and CEO and co-founder of Paragon. “We had to overcome incredible engineering challenges and it would not have been possible without the experience and dedication of the StratEx team.” The team included ILC Dover (ILC); United Parachute Technologies (UPT); ADE Technologies Consulting, LLC (ADE); Dr. Jonathan Clark, M.D.; Julian Nott; Sreenivasan Shankarnarayan; Don Day; World View Enterprises, Inc. and over a dozen other subcontractors.