Local

October 12, 2012

Tracking systems for Red Bull Stratos project tested at Edwards

Tags:
Laura Mowry
Staff writer

FlightLine Films tested their ground tracking system at Edwards Sept. 20 when Space Shuttle Endeavour landed for the final time at Edwards. The test was in preparation for the final jump of the Red Bull Stratos project, during which Felix Baumgartner will attempt to set four world records.

While the Edwards community awaited the arrival of Space Shuttle Endeavour Sept. 20 to appear out of the blue sky on its final approach, FlightLine Films aerospace cinematographer Jay Nemeth carefully tracked NASA’s shuttle carrier aircraft at approximately 30 miles out, testing his high-tech camera equipment in preparation for the highly anticipated Red Bull Stratos history-making skydive attempt by Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner.

Already in the Antelope Valley working on final preparations for the mission, FlightLine Films personnel were welcomed on base to test their ground tracking system before the big jump, currently scheduled for some time in October, after the first attempt was aborted due to high winds.

Felix Baumgartner’s jump will attempt to break retired Air Force colonel, Joseph Kittinger’s world-record for highest skydive, achieved in 1960 under Project Excelsior. Kittinger’s record is 102,800 feet and although he came close to breaking the sound barrier during the free-fall, the Red Bull Stratos project will serve as the first time someone has done so.

“We were in the California area and heard the Endeavour was coming. Edwards was gracious enough to let us come out and test some of our equipment on the landing,” said Nemeth. “The weather was great and we were already working in the Palmdale area, doing the final configuration of the Red Bull Stratos capsule. We were lucky enough to be able to get on base and get that footage.”

According to Nemeth, the uniquely configured system is one of many that will provide optical situational awareness to Red Bull Stratos flight controllers, give world-wide viewers the opportunity to watch the live telecast, and in the future be used as archival footage for documentary purposes.

“There are several uses for the footage; situational awareness for flight controllers, which is pretty much how the ranges do it and the other is because Red Bull Media House is a media company, the live telecast and archival footage can be used for documentaries especially the film that will air on the BBC and National Geographic Channel shortly after the jump. We are concerned with the traditional technical aspect, just like the ranges. Not only are we compatible with how ranges conduct optical tracking, but we have to create these compelling images. We have to tell the story of the mission,” said Nemeth.
To help tell the mission’s story and provide situational awareness for flight controllers, FlightLine Films will use some of the most high-tech, advanced cameras and tracking systems available.

“These are long-range optical tracking systems, which basically consist of high-powered telescopes with a variety of cameras. We have one high-definition camera, one high frame rate, which we call a high-speed engineering camera and an infrared camera. These cameras have an equivalent to an 8,000 millimeter lens,” said Nemeth.

Typically the most powerful telephoto camera lens available on the market is an 800 mm lens, ten times less than what will be used on the Red Bull Stratos project. What will be used for the project could be compared to the Hubble Telescope of telephoto lenses.

“We’re able to pick up an aircraft 30 miles out, easily see details on the International Space Station when it flies over. On the Red Bull Stratos project, we’ll be able to see a man-sized object, namely Felix as he steps off the capsule at 120,000 feet,” said Nemeth.

There will also be nine high-definition cameras; three digital cinematography cameras and three high-resolution digital still cameras in the capsule and on Baumgartner’s full pressure suit there will also be five small high-definition video cameras strategically placed with one on his chest and the other four located on his legs.

“Once he steps off the capsule, about three seconds later he is out of the range of the cameras on the capsule and we provide the only optical situational awareness for what Felix is doing as he descends,” said Nemeth.

Baumgartner’s jump will attempt to break retired Air Force colonel, Joseph Kittinger’s world-record for highest skydive, achieved in 1960 under Project Excelsior. Kittinger’s record is 102,800 feet and although he came close to breaking the sound barrier during the free-fall, the Red Bull Stratos project will serve as the first time someone has done so. Kittinger also serves as Capcom I, the sole voice in Felix’s ear throughout the entire mission.

In addition to setting a record for the first person to break the sound barrier during free-fall, the jump will also set records for highest skydive altitude, the longest free-fall, and the highest altitude for manned balloon flight.

Just as Kittinger’s jump recorded critical data for high-altitude egress for aircraft such as Lockheed’s U-2, Baumgartner’s jump will take it to the next level by not only achieving four world records, but it will play a critical role in gathering information for egress in the vacuum of space.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

News Briefs October 17, 2014

M4/M9 Firing Range closure The Edwards AFB Combat Arms Firing Range is closed for M4 and M9 firing until further notice. Any required firing for PCS or deployments will temporarily be accomplished at March ARB, Calif. To schedule training, contact the Combat Arms section at 661-277-2103. It is strongly recommended that all firing be scheduled as soon...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber

Bunch encourages one enterprise mindset at commanders call

Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber Maj. Gen. Arnold Bunch Jr., Air Force Test Center commander, discussed his six strategic goals for the test center at a commanders call Oct. 14 in the base theater. Maj. Gen. Arnie Bunch, A...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Jet Fabara

Edwards raises awareness of domestic violence, prevention

Air Force photograph by Jet Fabara La Toyia Conway-Hampton, founder, CEO and director of the Two-Lifestyles Women Empowerment Program, speaks to Edwards personnel during an interactive workshop Oct. 9 at the Airman and Family R...
 

 
retire2

412th TW command chief retires

Air Force photograph by Jet Fabara Chief Master Sgt. Brian Randolph stands next to a wooden tool box presented to him during his retirement ceremony Oct. 15 at Club Muroc. The tool box was presented by Brig. Gen. Michael Brewer...
 
 
Marine Corps photograph by Cpl. Owen Kimbrel

VMX-22 receives first F-35B aircraft

An F-35B Lightning II with Marine Operational and Test Evaluation Squadron (VMX) 22 prepares to touch down aboard Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Oct. 9. This is the squadron’s first F-35 Lightning II.   Marine Operation...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber

DEAM Team brings opportunity to Edwards

Air Force photograph by Rebecca Amber Alfred Wilson, 412th Test Wing Equal Opportunity director, navigates a tank chair built from the Fregoso Outdoor Fourndation. For the adventure-seeking individual, the tank chair enables pe...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>