We are doing a listening comprehension exercise: Transcript of Felix Baumgartner Parachute and CYPRES video By the way, CYPRES stands for Cybernetic Parachute Release System.
No parachute system has ever been used for a supersonic free fall from the edge of space. Months of development and testing have resulted in a revolutionary technology.
“We designed the parachute system, I’ve tested it, I’ve got close to a hundred jumps on it, all different configurations, Felix has jumped it, everything’s happy, as far as the parachute stuff goes I feel like everything’s good to go and it’s going to work.”
The container houses a small stabilization chute, called “drogue”, and two landing parachutes as well, as it also holds two oxygen bottles which can supply up to ten minutes of oxygen at altitude. A harness attaches the entire rig to Felix Baumgartner. The combined components still weigh about sixty pounds or twenty-seven kilos: three times that of a typical skydiving rig.
“Well my normal parachute that I jump out of an airplane with is a hundred square feet, the main parachute in this particular one is two hundred and seventy square feet, it’s a specially manufactured parachute, it’s built to be stronger, to be more durable for the shock that it may take on this particular jump.”
When Felix jumps out, he’s a relatively small guy who weighs one hundred and sixty-five pounds I think, something like that, when he jumps out of the gondola he’ll be weighing two hundred and eighty-five pounds, so we have to stress everything for a guy his size. We came up with a parachute that is right for this job, it descends a little bit slower, that’s why the pack is a lot larger than a normal skydiving set-up. The reserve is also larger, the reserve is two hundred and seventy square feet also, both of those have been designed for this particular job, the reserve is extra reinforced, made to withstand a harder opening shock. We’ve given him the strongest parachute that we can build for that.”
To minimize risk, Felix’s parachute rig houses several safety devices to protect him in the event of an emergency. If Felix becomes unstable, he may need the small drogue chute to keep from spinning uncontrollably.
“I was kind of against the drogue system to start with at all, because it can tangle around you like Joe’s happened to him way back when, but the science team and everyone decided we needed this drogue stabilization device so it fell on my plate to decide how to deploy it, so I came up with this contraption, the ‘G-Whizz’ meter and a push button on him to deploy it.”
If Felix loses consciousness during free fall, the so-called CYPRES device, will automatically deploy his parachute at a certain altitude.
“So our CYPRES will fire the reserve at twenty-two hundred feet over the area that he’s going to land, it does that off of barometric pressure.”
“Seven nine seven, the CYPRES is set, I check it one time by pulling on this yellow cable that’ll be pulled when he exits the seat. When I pull the cable out, like he does up there, boom turns on and we’re ready to go.”
The skydiving rig has more handles to help cut-away parachutes. If Felix’s chute inadvertently deployed at high altitude, his landing could be delayed, meaning he may run out of oxygen. After cutting the main chute, he’d only deploy his reserve parachute once a normal altitude was reached.
“Because of the design of the pressure suit, he’s not going to be able to look down and see which handles he’s grabbing, he has to be able to feel which handles he’s reaching for. So having them in distinctively different places, and sizes, and orientation, even, is going to help him survive any emergency that he may encounter. The system is going to have a rip cord to deploy the drogue and then he’s going to have a rip cord to deploy the main parachute, and a rip cord to deploy the reserve parachute, and then a cut-away handle for the main parachute and a cut-away handle for the reserve parachute, so there’s a
couple of extra handles there versus the standard sport system.”
In his quest to break records, Felix has one underlying goal.
“He has a chance to set the world record for the highest free fall, so what we’re going to do is he’s going to jump out. If everything goes great he’ll free fall the whole way down and open his parachute at five thousand feet and we crush the record and it’s awesome… he went faster than the speed of sound, free-fell longer than anybody else. If for some reason something goes wrong, or he needs to fire the drogue parachute, that would null and void the record, because what happens is as soon as any part of the parachute system opens, it’s considered stabilization, and a stabilization device voids the free fall record. To be a true free fall, he has to free fall out with no assistance whatsoever, down to a normal opening altitude and open his parachute.”