The near-space suit worn by Felix Baumgartner last weekend in his record-breaking free-fall has a Calgary connection.

Calgary native Shane Jacobs, who grew up in the community of Lake Bonavista, was the lead in a group of 50 people that developed the 14 kilogram suit worn by Baumgartner when he plunged from a capsule at an altitude of 39,000 metres last Sunday.

While attending Bishop Carroll High School, Jacobs was inspired by a handful of math and science teachers who allowed him to work independently, an interview with the Calgary Herald reveals.

While he was earning a mechanical engineering degree at McGill University Jacobs would return home to Calgary, finding summer work developing running shoe technology at the University of Calgary.

"I guess I did always love physics, and learning about how everything around me actually worked. It was fascinating stuff," he told the Herald.

Jacobs then went on to complete his PhD in aerospace engineering at the University of Maryland before landing a job with David Clark Company, a Massachusetts-based firm that specializes in air and space crew equipment design.

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  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner is scheduled to attempt the highest parachute jump of all time on Oct. 9, 2012. Here, Baumgartner performs during the first high altitude test jump from an airplane in Taft, California on February 20, 2012.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner during the high altitude test jump.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner during a test jump from a helicopter, April 13, 2009.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner leaps off the 508-meter high Taipei 101 Tower in Taiwan on December 11, 2008.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner at the top of the Christ the Redeemer Statue near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on December 3, 2001. Before Stratos, Baumgartner was best known as a skydiver and BASE jumper.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner during the first manned test flight of the capsule, February 23, 2012.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    The mission control during the first manned test flight.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    The Roswell, New Mexico launch location of the first test flight.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner during the first test flight.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    The capsule just before the second manned test flight, July 25, 2012.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    The capsule in the pressure chamber at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    The interior of the capsule in Lancaster, California on February 1, 2012.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner during wind tunnel test on February 26, 2010.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Retired Air Force Colonel Joe Kittinger with Baumgartner during a press conference in Salzburg, Austria on April 23, 2012. Kittinger holds the record for the highest-altitude jump, which he set in 1960. He is an advisor for the Stratos project and will relay messages to and from Baumgartner during the October jump attempt.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Kittinger just prior to his record setting jump from 102.800 feet in 1960. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Kittinger

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner undergoes scientific tests in Los Angeles, USA on June 11, 2012.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Screen shows brain waves of Baumgartner during scientific test session.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner during the first manned test flight.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner inside the capsule prior to the second manned test flight.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner during training session in Lancaster, California, on February 22, 2012.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Crew members prepare the capsule for the second manned test flight.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Crew members fill the balloon with helium before the second manned test flight.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner steps out of the capsule during the second manned test flight.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Mission Coordinator Mike Jacobs (L) and Kittinger (R) work during the second manned test flight.

According to the CBC, Jacobs spent three years developing the suit.

"This is a very unique challenge and there's a lot of unique requirements for this suit," Jacobs told the CBC.

"It protects him from a lot of perils of high-altitude ... it's really the state-of-the-art of pressure technology."

GALLERY: SPACE SUIT FACTS

"A flat spin ... could create G-forces that make you go unconscious," Jacobs told the CBC.

"When he's jumping from such high altitude, even though he's a very experienced skydiver and he knows how to position his body when he normally skydives from low altitudes, the atmosphere is so thin, that there isn't enough atmospheric drag to really push against to control your body."

And, indeed, Baumgartner's ground control team held their breath at one point during the jump when he appeared to lose control, spinning wildly for several seconds before righting himself to proper form.

While David Clark Company declined to share the cost of the suit, they did say that stunt sponsor Red Bull picked up the tab.

SPACE SUIT FACTS

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  • The suit prevents decompression sickness or “the bends.” Avoids ebullism, or tissue turning into gas.

  • The suit’s "brain" was a puck-sized pressure regulator.

  • The suit took the team at David Clark Co. three years to develop, under the guidance of Calgary native Shane Jacobs.

  • David Clark Co. has also crafted suits for NASA’s Gemini project and X-15 research plane.

  • Felix Baumgartner

    Working on the suit was a 50-person development team.

  • The suit weighed 14 kiilograms (30 pounds.)

  • The suit was pressurized to 3.5 lbs/sq.-in.

  • O ponto de vista de Felix Baumgartner pouco antes do salto que quebrou a barreira do som

  • The suit protects from temperatures of 100 F to -90 F

  • The helmet weights 3.5 kg.


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