Humans aren't built for such extreme altitudes, so Baumgartner will wear a full-pressure suit--essentially a spacesuit--to protect against the dangers of extreme cold, too little oxygen, and really, really low air pressure (think the bends, or worse). The chest pack will include a GPS system and data logger to help determine the speed of his descent. The custom-fit suit and helmet were modeled on those used by pilots of high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft.
As much as the suit protects him, it presents challenges as well. When it's pressurized--to 3.5 pounds per square inch before he exits the capsule--Baumgartner will experience a good deal of sensory deprivation. In testing, he discovered that it was difficult to find the handles of his parachutes, which led to modifications in the design, including mirrors on the gloves to help him see his equipment.
July 5, 2010 6:00 AM PDT
Photo by: Sven Hoffmann for Red Bull Stratos
| Caption by: Jonathan Skillings
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