Why was a balloon so important to Felix Baumgartner's Space jump?

To raise Felix 24 miles above the earth’s surface, he flew the largest manned balloon ever. This clip explains the science behind why a seemingly ordinary piece of equipment was so essential.

Felix Baumgartner's mission depended on one of the least heralded but most remarkable pieces of equipment - a balloon. To take him 24 miles above the earth’s surface, Felix flew the largest manned balloon ever. It was as tall as a fifty-storey building and held 30 million cubic feet of helium. So even before Felix jumped he had entered the record books.

Teacher Notes

You could use this clip to stimulate a discussion about air density. Students could be asked to consider why the balloon is filled with helium or why decreasing atmospheric pressure has an effect on the balloon's shape. Students could also talk about the effects of weather conditions on similar projects. This is the second of six clips from ‘The Science of Space Dive’ and this clip could be used in conjunction with the others.

Curriculum Notes

This clip could be relevant to teaching Science at KS3 and KS4 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and at National 4/5 or Higher in Scotland.