Just what does it take to be a stratonaut, soaring to higher and higher altitudes of Earth's atmosphere? Brave men and women have reached extreme heights in balloons, aircraft and rocket ships over the past two centuries, from the first untethered balloon flight to the first flights in the newly defined stratosphere, through to the present flights that continue to set new records. This book defines the altitudes related to the stratosphere, how it changes with latitude and the effects on ascending aviators. Also described is how over time technology enabled aircraft and balloons to achieve higher altitudes. The book shows the clear influence of the military on designs that initially focused on speed and maneuverability, but only later on reaching new altitudes. The early flights into the troposphere and eventually the mid to upper reaches of the stratosphere are chronicled, with great emphasis on flight operations. This includes decompression, bailouts, inertia coupling, ejections, catastrophic disintegration, crashes and deaths. Although the book highlights major altitude attempts and records, it also focuses on the life-threatening problems confronting the would-be stratonaut and the causes of many of their deaths. In doing so, it tries to define just what it takes to be a stratonaut. 'Dutch' Von Ehrenfried has worked in both the spaceflight and aviation fields for about 25 years, including as a stratonaut himself. He was a NASA Flight Controller in Mission Control for Mercury, Gemini and Apollo Missions and also worked on some of the experiments that went into Skylab from an Earth Resources experiment standpoint. He worked in the NASA Headquarters Space Station Program Office for about 10 years and the FAA Aviation Safety Office for a year. In addition to being a pilot, his high altitude flying experience came about because he was also an Apollo Pressure Suit Test Subject and had a lot of experience in both Air Force and NASA space suits. This experience required him to perform a lot of physiological tests in centrifuges, vacuum chambers, zero g aircraft, etc. In addition, Von Ehrenfried has a lot of experience working with scientists on Apollo, which gave him the knowledge needed to translate scientific requirements into flight operations. Consequently, he became the first Mission Manager and sensor operator on the high altitude RB-57F Earth Resources Aircraft and worked with scientists to determine how the aircraft sensor platform would be able to acquire their data, planning the missions and operating the sensors in flight mostly in 60,000 -70,000 foot altitudes.
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