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Alan Eustace on Jumping From the Stratosphere and Life After Google

The retiring (but not shy) longtime Google engineer has lots of plans for what's next, but none involve him parachuting down to earth again.

Bret Hartman/TED

Alan Eustace would appear to have more time for climbing into the stratosphere when he retires from Google later this month. However, he insists his record-breaking parachute jump was his last journey into the heavens.

“My wife has plans that I am not going to do another one of these things,” Eustace told Re/code, shortly after giving a TED talk about his experience. “I am no longer allowed to do anything which is termed ‘extremely dangerous.’ Now we’re just negotiating what extremely dangerous means.”

 The suit Alan Eustace used for his record-setting jump, on display at TED2015, where it was a popular spot for selfies
The suit Alan Eustace used for his record-setting jump, on display at TED2015, where it was a popular spot for selfies
Ina Fried

Instead, Eustace will focus on more earthly aviation pursuits.

“I’m learning to fly a helicopter, which is fun,” he said. “I’m almost done with that.”

He is also looking to get back to his roots as an engineer.

“I’m building an application,” he said. “My daughter has a really nice idea for a product that I want to help her prototype and set up a little company for.”

As for the gear Eustace used on his voyage, it is off on its own tour, headed to a variety of events after TED including perhaps a visit to Google.

The technology Eustace used may not be headed to the masses any time soon, but he said it does have some other important potential uses. A suit similar to the one Eustace wore could work on manned trips to the International Space Station. It could even offer astronauts a potential escape mechanism if there was a rocket problem on the way to space.

There are also lessons to be taken from the obstacles the team encountered along the way. At one point the effort was delayed by a year to address several problems including a potentially fatal amount of spin being encountered by a dummy used in high-altitude tests.

A few other fun facts from Eustace:

  • There is no bathroom in his spacesuit. “I had a diaper — which I used.”
  • There is, however, a heating system that kept Eustace warm. An electric heating system circulated hot water through his suit. But it turns out that at the highest altitudes the body holds heat better and by 55,000 feet Eustace had the heat turned down and had it shut off entirely at 85,000 feet.
  • His hands got the coldest, but he said it was no colder than a normal day on the ski slopes.

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