The Austrian was elated after his successful jump from that amazing altitude last month, but hours after touching down near Roswell, New Mexico, his team discovered the capsule had been damaged during the landing, Red Bull, which is sponsoring the jump, said this week.
The pressurized capsule is built much like a space capsule, and the Red Bull Stratos team has spent years honing its design and construction. The capsule also was used in a test jumps from 71,580 feet in March. The team had planned to use it again during his record-setting jump from 120,000 feet.
After Baumgartner stepped from the capsule to begin his fall from 18 miles up, the capsule detached from the massive balloon that carried it aloft and fell to earth beneath its parachute. It landed on a rocky patch and was tossed around, damaging the outer shell and framework.
Ten days of testing confirmed that the capsule’s inner pressure sphere and key electronic support systems remained intact. Still, the Stratos team has decided to replace some parts of the life support system. The refurbished capsule will be tested next month in an altitude chamber at Brooks-City Base in San Antonio, Texas.