Christian Long

Steve Truglia: A Leap from the Edge of Space

In TED Talks on April 18, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Reflection by SCOTT M.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Steve Truglia:  A Leap from the Edge of Space

First of all I would like to say that I do agree with him and that it is probably the scariest stunt on Earth. This is probably one of the scariest things anyone has ever tried to do.

For me personally space is actually one of my greatest fears just cause of the sheer size of it and looking at this guy who is planning on going up to it in nothing but pretty much a hot air balloon I admire him a whole lot. I can safely say that I would probably NEVER do something like this. When we’re with our friends we always talk about how awesome it would be to do something like this, or maybe something even simpler, how awesome it would be to skydive from a normal height.

And we always say “Oh yeah I would definitely do it!” when in reality I think it would probably be one of the scariest things ever.

Think about it. Your jumping out of an airplane. So many things could go wrong. Maybe I’m just being negative about it but I still think it would be pretty scary. And this guy is doing it from 120,000 feet up. This kind of thing takes a lot of courage.

When we watch action movies we kind of overlook the dangerousness of all the stunts performed in them. The explosions are real, the cars are actually being flipped, the fire is not computer generated, and yet we watch them and see the people the stuntman go through those things like it was nothing. Most of us would “normal people” not be able to do something like that. We don’t realize how cool it is for stuntmen to do stuff like this and walk away from it without a scratch. Movies would not be the same without the stuntman.

Now to the space jump. Imagine it.

You’re on the ground in a space suit and a helmet that completely takes away your peripherals. Your in a basket loaded with pressure sensors and altitude meters all being carried by a giant helium balloon hundreds of feet high. When your ready, the sandbags are released and you begin floating up in the air. At first it’s just like flying in an airplane and your ears start to pop but the G-force suit you have on inflates and squeezes your body so your blood doesn’t expand. You float higher and now when you look down the people you were just standing by are little black dots barely distinguishable. Your helium balloon breaks through the clouds and you can sense that the temperature has dropped outside your space suit but you barely feel anything. Once you break above the clouds nothing is able to be seen but the white fluff. The temperature and pressure gauges in your basket begin to have a frost form over.

You’re now at 70,000 feet, almost twice as high as airplanes fly, but yet your only a little bit more then half way through your journey. The higher you climb the more the balloon above you expands in the low pressure of the vacuum that is space.

At 80,000 feet it is very easy to see the curvature of the Earth. Only a few more minutes now.

At 110,000 feet you start to unhook yourself from your seat and prepare for your jump. If you leap off too early then the entire ride was a waste because you didn’t reach your goal. Too high and you may suffocate. At 120,000 feet, you fall, rather then jump off and make your way back to Earth, through the clouds, the blue oceans rush back to you, it all looks flat again.

Now does sky diving seem so easy and fun?

This is probably one of the most challenging and scary feats man will try to conquer. Somebody better sponsor this guy quick because I want to see it happen.


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