Record-setting skydive will require world's biggest balloon

We talked a few times about daredevil Felix Baumgartner and his plan to set a world record for the world's highest skydive. Baumgartner hopes to reach the speed of sound without using aircraft during his descent. While jumping from an altitude of 23 miles above the surface of the earth is very impressive, the technology required to haul a man in a pressurized capsule that altitude is also very impressive. The balloon to be used in the stunt is massive, yet incredibly frail.

It will take 10 workers to unfurl and inflate the world's largest helium balloon. This massive helium balloon will take Baumgartner and his pressurized capsule to an altitude of 23 miles above the surface of the earth before he opens the door and jumps. It will reportedly take eight hours to unfurl and inflate the massive, and insanely flimsy balloon.

Putting enough helium into the massive 334-foot tall helium balloon will take 45 minutes to an hour. The helium balloon has a capacity of 30,000,000 ft.³. The gigantic balloon in the photograph was used to carry Baumgartner 13 miles above the surface of the earth in March and was only 128 feet tall.

The balloon is constructed of polyethylene and is much thinner than a sandwich bag. The envelope of the balloon is 0.0008-inches thick, which is about 10 times thinner than your average sandwich bag. The massive balloon will be 55-stories tall and weigh 3708 pounds. The balloon uses enough polyethylene strips to cover 40 acres if laid out flat. The balloon will stand 334 feet tall and 424 feet in diameter when it reaches its peak altitude.

[via Wired]