Space dive: Balloon, capsule recovered
London: Days after the record-setting space dive by Felix Baumgartner, the painstaking job of removing the paraphernalia of balloon, parachute and capsule that weighed 1,682 kgs, from the New Mexico desert, has been completed.
In a scene familiar to anyone who has ever hosted a house party, members of the Red Bull crew, which sponsored the death-defying stunt by the Austrian, were left with the task of recovering Baumgartner's capsule and packing up the balloon that deposited the apparatus on terra firma.
Recovery team members Jon Wells and Travis Moore swung into action as soon as the capsule, called the Red Bull Stratos, landed east of Roswell, New Mexico in the US on October 14.
Following a thorough inspection of the apparatus, it was determined that the Stratos touched down in a good condition thanks to the seven-layer crush pads at its base, according to a recent blog entry on Red Bull's website.
Shortly after 43-year-old Baumgartner jumped and the Mission Control team determined the balloon and capsule were over an open area, they remotely triggered the release of the capsule from the balloon.
The capsule parachute, which had been incorporated in the 'flight train' between the capsule and the balloon, immediately deployed, and it floated back to earth, gently landing a little more than 88 kilometres from the launch site.
As the capsule fell away from the balloon in the stratosphere, a cable tore a panel known as 'gore' from the balloon, releasing its nontoxic helium. The empty plastic envelope fell to earth, passing the capsule and landing about 15 minutes later, about 11 kilometres west of the Stratos.
A crew of twelve people were waiting to recover the equipment.
The crew powered off the capsule's system of 15 cameras and retrieved the camera data. Then the crew from Sage Cheshire Aerospace, completed the final step by shutting down the rest of the systems and overall capsule power.
The recovery team drove the 11 kilometres to reach the balloon. Within 45 minutes, they managed to lasso 40 acres of material weighing 1,682 kilograms into a large open truck.
More than seven hours after Baumgartner's take-off, the capsule and balloon crews arrived back at the Roswell launch site before being transferred to the mission's technical hub at Sage Cheshire Aerospace in Lancaster, California.