Jonathan Clark: Surviving a Supersonic Stratospheric Freefall

IHMC Evening Lectures show

Summary: Red Bull Stratos was a privately funded manned stratosphere balloon flight test and free- fall parachute jump program completed in 2012. The test program included unmanned balloon and capsule tests, vertical wind tunnel and high troposphere tests of the drogue and main parachutes and the spacesuit, low-pressure chamber tests of the spacesuit, and integrated thermal and vacuum-chamber tests of the capsule, spacesuit, and parachute and life support systems. A team was formed to develop and implement medical and physiologic support for this program. Issues addressed included development of a protocol for oxygen prebreathe to reduce the risk of decompression sickness, briefing crew members on medical and physiologic threats, medical and physiologic monitoring for the thermal vacuum test phase and stratospheric flights, launch and recovery medical planning, and contingency planning. After a series of progressively more challenging test flights and jumps, on October 14, 2012, Felix Baumgartner ascended to 127,852 ft in a balloon and free-fell 119,431 ft, reaching 843.6 mph (Mach 1.25). Dr. Jonathan B. Clark is an Associate Professor of Neurology and Space Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. He received a B. S. from Texas A&M University, an M.D. from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and is board certified in Neurology and Aerospace Medicine. Dr. Clark is a Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association. He was a member of the NASA Spacecraft Survival Integrated Investigation Team from 2004 to 2007 and a member of the NASA Constellation Program EVA Systems Standing Review Board from 2007 to 2010. Dr. Clark worked at NASA from 1997 to 2005 and was a Space Shuttle Crew Surgeon on six shuttle missions and was Chief of the Medical Operations Branch. Prior to NASA, Dr. Clark devoted 26 years to active service with the Navy, during which he headed the Spatial Orientation Systems Department at the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory in Pensacola; the Aeromedical Department at the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One in Yuma, Arizona; and the Neurology Division and Hyperbaric Medicine at the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute. He was a DOD Space Shuttle Support Flight Surgeon covering two space shuttle flights and flew combat medical evacuation missions in Operation Desert Storm with the Marine Corps. He qualified as a Naval Flight Officer, Naval Flight Surgeon, Navy Diver, U.S. Army parachutist and Special Forces Military Freefall Parachutist. Dr. Clark was Medical Director of the Red Bull Stratos Project.