Art Thompson and Red Bull Stratos Team

On October 14, 2012, the Red Bull Stratos project, under the leadership of Art Thompson, successfully proved that a pilot/jumper flying to 127,852 feet in a pressure capsule under a 30-million-cubic-foot scientific balloon could exit and free-fall (reaching a speed of Mach 1.25 [843.6 mph]). This was the first time that a person in free-fall broke the speed of sound without the use of a vehicle and returned safely back to earth from an altitude of more than 24 miles. Red Bull Stratos broke a 52-year-old record set by retired Col. Joseph Kittinger, who while with the United States Air Force, jumped from a gondola at 102,800 feet and reached Mach 0.9 (614 mph) upon descent.

Art Thompson has more than 40 years of experience in leading-edge, innovative design which has contributed to major milestones in the aerospace industry, including development of the B-2 Stealth Bomber and other aircraft. A California native, Thompson studied engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles and also studied at La Verne and Northrop universities. Thompson is also a member of the AsMA Aerospace Medical Association, AIAA and on the Board of Trustees for the Flight Test Historical Foundation.

The work and genius of Art Thompson will help develop the next-generation space suit, and has advanced the methods of high altitude egress from aircraft or spacecraft at similar altitudes. In particular the demonstration of man’s ability to free-fall from subsonic though transonic to supersonic and back through to subsonic without the use of a vehicle, the development of procedures for egress from high altitude, high speed drogue stabilization systems and accelerometer/G metering to trigger the safety systems at a measured rate and duration of spin and G force, and the development of the first solid state circuit breakers to operate in a near vacuum that can be actuated from the ground or in the capsule.

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