Hostname: page-component-7479d7b7d-pfhbr Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-13T11:17:42.991Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Crew Recovery and Contingency Planning for a Manned Stratospheric Balloon Flight – the StratEx Program

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 August 2016

Anil S. Menon*
Affiliation:
Department of Preventive Medicine and Emergency Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TexasUSA
David Jourdan
Affiliation:
Nauticos, LLC, Cape Porpoise, MaineUSA
Derek M. Nusbaum
Affiliation:
Emergency Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TexasUSA
Alejandro Garbino
Affiliation:
Emergency Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TexasUSA Center for Space Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TexasUSA
Daniel M. Buckland
Affiliation:
ADE Aerospace LLC, Houston, TexasUSA
Sean Norton
Affiliation:
Travis County Emergency Medical Service, Austin, TexasUSA
Johnathan B. Clark
Affiliation:
Center for Space Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TexasUSA
Erik L. Antonsen
Affiliation:
Emergency Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TexasUSA Center for Space Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TexasUSA
*
Correspondence: Anil S. Menon, MD, MS, MPH 607 Travis St, Suite 1 Webster, Texas 77598 USA E-mail: Anil@Menon.com

Abstract

The StratEx program used a self-contained space suit and balloon system to loft pilot Alan Eustace to a record-breaking altitude and skydive from 135,897 feet (41,422 m). After releasing from the balloon and a stabilized freefall, the pilot safely landed using a parachute system based on a modified tandem parachute rig. A custom spacesuit provided life support using a similar system to NASA’s (National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Washington, DC USA) Extravehicular Mobility Unit. It also provided tracking, communications, and connection to the parachute system. A recovery support team, including at least two medical personnel and two spacesuit technicians, was charged with reaching the pilot within five minutes of touchdown to extract him from the suit and provide treatment for any injuries. The team had to track the flight at all times, be prepared to respond in case of premature release, and to operate in any terrain. Crew recovery operations were planned and tailored to anticipate outcomes during this novel event in a systematic fashion, through scenario and risk analysis, in order to minimize the probability and impact of injury. This analysis, detailed here, helped the team configure recovery assets, refine navigation and tracking systems, develop procedures, and conduct training. An extensive period of testing and practice culminated in three manned flights leading to a successful mission and setting the record for exit altitude, distance of fall with stabilizing device, and vertical speed with a stabilizing device. During this mission, recovery teams reached the landing spot within one minute, extracted the pilot, and confirmed that he was not injured. This strategy is presented as an approach to prehospital planning and care for improved safety during crew recovery in novel, extreme events.

MenonAS, JourdanD, NusbaumDM, GarbinoA, BucklandDM, NortonS, ClarkJB, AntonsenEL. Crew Recovery and Contingency Planning for a Manned Stratospheric Balloon Flight – the StratEx Program. Prehosp Disaster Med.2016;31(5):524–531.

Type
Special Reports
Copyright
© World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine 2016 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

1. Blue, RS, Norton, SC, Law, J, et al. Emergency medical support for a manned stratospheric balloon test program. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2014;29(5):532-537.Google Scholar
2. Davis, JR, et al, (eds). Fundamentals of Aerospace Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2008:669-676.Google Scholar
3. Kittenger, J. Come Up and Get Me. New Mexico, USA: University of New Mexico Press; 2010:211-231.Google Scholar
4. Blue, RS, Law, J, Norton, SC, et al. Overview of medical operations for a manned stratospheric balloon flight. Aviat Space Environ Med. 2013;84(3):237-241.Google Scholar
5. Pattarini, JM, Blue, RS, Aikins, LT, et al. Flat spin and negative Gz in high-altitude free fall: pathophysiology, prevention, and treatment. Aviat Space Environ Med. 2013;84(9):961-970.Google Scholar
6. Murray, DH, Pilmanis, AA, Blue, RS, et al. Pathophysiology, prevention, and treatment of ebullism. Aviat Space Environ Med. 2013;84(2):89-96.Google Scholar
7. Van Nimmen, J, Bruno, LC, Ezell, LN. NASA Historical Data Book. Washington, DC USA: Government Printing Office; 1976:910-925.Google Scholar
8. Hinkelbein, J, Schwalbe, M, Neuhaus, C, Wetsch, WA, Genzwurker, HV. Incidents, accidents, and fatalities in 40 years of German helicopter emergency medical system operations. Eur J Anaesthesiol. 2011;28(11):766-773.Google Scholar
9. Texas Motor Vehicle Crash Statistics. USDOT Web site. www.txdot.gov/government/enforcement/annual-summary.html. Accessed October 1, 2013.Google Scholar
10. Moonesinghe, R, Longthorne, A, Shankar, U, et al. An analysis of fatal large truck crashes. NHTSA Technical Report. Washington, DC USA: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; 2003.Google Scholar