StratEx Environmental Testing
The StratEx program was established by Alan Eustace to explore the stratosphere and carry out sky dives from extreme altitudes with a secondary goal of breaking the world record for the highest altitude sky dive. As such, this project exposed the sky diver to a wide range of life threatening atmospheric conditions. To protect the sky diver a space suit with an integrated life support system and a complex package of avionics was developed. The sky diver was lifted into the stratosphere by a Flight Vehicle that included a large helium balloon and a collection of mechanisms and avionics components. To ensure that all of these systems functioned as intended during flight, a series of environmental tests was conducted. This paper describes the environmental test program and the unique test facilities employed to verify the functionality and performance of the flight systems. In the end, three stratospheric sky dives were successfully completed, with the final flight establishing a new world record altitude of 135,899 ft.