Alan Eustace

Robert Alan Eustace is an American computer scientist who served as Senior Vice President of Knowledge at Google.[3] Since October 24, 2014, he holds the world record for the highest-altitude free-fall jump.[2][4]

Alan Eustace
Alan Eustace in 2008
Alan Eustace in 2008.
Robert Alan Eustace[1]

1956/1957 (age 61–62)[2]
Alma materUniversity of Central Florida
OccupationComputer scientist
Known forWorld record for the highest-altitude free-fall jump
Board member ofAnita Borg Institute for Women and Technology

Early years

The son of a Martin Marietta engineer, Eustace grew up in Pine Hills, Florida, then a working-class suburb of Orlando, where small ranch houses had been built for employees of the Martin Marietta Corporation.[5] After graduating from Maynard Evans High School in 1974, he received a debate scholarship from Valencia College and attended it for a year before transferring to Florida Technological University—now known as the University of Central Florida—to major in mechanical engineering.[5]

As a university student, Eustace worked part-time selling popcorn and ice cream in Fantasyland and working on the monorail at Walt Disney World.[5] However, after taking a class on computer science, he decided to switch majors and ended up completing three academic degrees in the field, including a doctorate in 1984.[5]

Professional career

After graduation, Eustace worked briefly for Silicon Solutions, a startup in Silicon Valley,[5] before joining Digital, Compaq and then HP's Western Research Laboratory, where he worked 15 years on pocket computing, chip multi-processors, power and energy management, internet performance, and frequency and voltage scaling.[6] In the mid-1990s, he worked with Amitabh Srivastava on ATOM, a binary-code instrumentation system that forms the basis for a wide variety of program analysis and computer architecture analysis tools.[6][7] These tools had a profound influence on the EV5, EV6 and EV7 chip designs.

Eustace was appointed head of the laboratory in 1999, but left it three years later to join Google, then a four-year-old startup.[5] At Google, he worked as Senior Vice President of Engineering and as Senior Vice President of its Knowledge department until his retirement on March 27, 2015.[8] He was also actively involved in a number of Google's community-related activities, such as the Second Harvest Food Bank and the Anita Borg Scholarship Fund.[6]

In the course of his professional career, Eustace co-authored nine publications and appeared as co-inventor in ten patents.[6]

Stratosphere jump

Comparison International Standard Atmosphere space diving
Comparisons: Jump altitudes by Alan Eustace and others versus atmospheric temperature and pressure

In 2011, Eustace decided to pursue a stratosphere jump and met with Taber MacCallum, one of the founding members of Biosphere 2, to begin preparations for the project.[2] Over the next three years, the Paragon Space Development technical team designed and redesigned many of the components of his parachute and life-support system.[1][2]

On October 24, 2014, Eustace made a jump from the stratosphere, breaking Felix Baumgartner's 2012 world record.[9] The launch-point for his jump was from an abandoned runway in Roswell, New Mexico, where he began his gas balloon-powered ascent early that morning.[9] He reached a reported maximum altitude of 135,908 feet (41.425 km; 25.7402 mi), but the final number submitted to the World Air Sports Federation was 135,889.108 feet (41.419000 km; 25.7365735 mi).[2] The balloon used for the feat was manufactured by the Balloon Facility of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Hyderabad, India.[1] Eustace in his pressure suit hung tethered under the balloon, without the kind of capsule used by Felix Baumgartner. Eustace started his fall by using an explosive device to separate from the helium balloon.

His descent to Earth lasted 4 minutes 27 seconds[10] and stretched nearly 26 miles (42 km) with peak speeds exceeding 822 miles per hour (1,323 km/h),[9] setting new world records for the highest free-fall jump and total free-fall distance 123,414 feet (37,617 m).[11] However, because Eustace's jump involved a drogue parachute, while Baumgartner's did not, their vertical speed and free-fall distance records remain in different categories.[12][13][14]

Unlike Baumgartner, Eustace, a twin-engine-jet pilot, was not widely known as a daredevil prior to his jump.[2]

Eustace's world record jump was featured in two episodes of STEM in 30, a television show geared towards middle-school students by the National Air and Space Museum.[15]

See also

Further reading

  • Leidich, Jared The Wild Black Yonder, The Inside Story of the Secret Trip to the Edge of Earth's Atmosphere for the Highest Balloon Flight and Skydive of All Time. Stratospheric Publishing, 2016. ISBN 0997691905

External links


  1. ^ a b c "StratEx". Paragon. Retrieved October 27, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Markoff, John (October 24, 2014). "Parachutist's Record-Breaking Fall: 26 Miles, 15 Minutes". The New York Times. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  3. ^ "Management team". Google. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  4. ^ Markoff, John (October 27, 2014). "15 Minutes of Free Fall Required Years of Taming Scientific Challenges - For World Record, Alan Eustace Fought Atmosphere and Equipment". New York Times. Retrieved October 31, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Kassab, Beth (December 13, 2011). "Google exec remembers growing up in Pine Hills". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d "Alan Eustace - Senior VP". Crunch Base. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  7. ^ A. Srivastava and A. Eustace, ATOM: A system for building customized program analysis tools, Proceedings of the ACM SIGPLAN Conference on Programming language design and implementation (PLDI '94), pp. 196–205, 1994; ACM SIGPLAN Notices - Best of PLDI 1979-1999 Homepage archive, Vol. 39, No. 4, pp. 528–539; doi:10.1145/989393.989446
  8. ^ Womack, Brian. "Google Senior Executive Alan Eustace Leaving After 13 Years". Bloomberg. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  9. ^ a b c "Google VP's 135,908-foot leap breaks world record for highest free-fall parachute jump". The Verge. October 24, 2014. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  10. ^ Eustace, Alan. "Transcript of "I leapt from the stratosphere. Here's how I did it"". Retrieved 2018-11-10.
  11. ^ "Google's Alan Eustace beats Baumgartner's skydiving record". BBC News. October 24, 2014. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
  12. ^ "Baumgartner's Records Ratified by FAI!". FAI. February 22, 2013. Archived from the original on March 14, 2013. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  13. ^ "Alan Eustace, D-7426, Bests High-Altitude World Record". U.S. Parachute Association. October 24, 2014. Archived from the original on October 3, 2015. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  14. ^ "Falling up: Why former Googler Alan Eustace broke the world free-fall record". Popular Science. August 11, 2015. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  15. ^ The Engineering Behind a Record-Breaking Skydive, retrieved 2019-02-06
Preceded by
Austria Felix Baumgartner
Highest space dive (41.419 km)
October 24, 2014 – present
Current holder
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Felix Baumgartner

Felix Baumgartner (German: [ˈfeːlɪks ˈbaʊ̯mˌɡaɐ̯tnɐ]; born 20 April 1969) is an Austrian skydiver, daredevil, and BASE jumper. He is best known for jumping to Earth from a helium balloon in the stratosphere on 14 October 2012. Doing so, he set world records for skydiving an estimated 39 km (24 mi), reaching an estimated top speed of 1,357.64 km/h (843.6 mph), or Mach 1.25. He became the first person to break the sound barrier without vehicular power relative to the surface on his descent. He broke skydiving records for exit altitude, vertical freefall distance without drogue, and vertical speed without drogue. Though he still holds the two latter records, the first was broken two years later, when on 24 October 2014, Alan Eustace jumped from 135,890 feet—or, 41.42 km (25.74 mi) with a drogue.Baumgartner is also renowned for the particularly dangerous nature of the stunts he has performed during his career. Baumgartner spent time in the Austrian military where he practiced parachute jumping, including training to land on small target zones.


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The stratosphere () is the second major layer of Earth's atmosphere, just above the troposphere, and below the mesosphere. The stratosphere is stratified (layered) in temperature, with warmer layers higher and cooler layers closer to the Earth; this increase of temperature with altitude is a result of the absorption of the Sun's ultraviolet radiation by the ozone layer. This is in contrast to the troposphere, near the Earth's surface, where temperature decreases with altitude. The border between the troposphere and stratosphere, the tropopause, marks where this temperature inversion begins. Near the equator, the stratosphere starts at as high as 20 km (66,000 ft; 12 mi), around 10 km (33,000 ft; 6.2 mi) at midlatitudes, and at about 7 km (23,000 ft; 4.3 mi) at the poles. Temperatures range from an average of −51 °C (−60 °F; 220 K) near the tropopause to an average of −15 °C (5.0 °F; 260 K) near the mesosphere. Stratospheric temperatures also vary within the stratosphere as the seasons change, reaching particularly low temperatures in the polar night (winter). Winds in the stratosphere can far exceed those in the troposphere, reaching near 60 m/s (220 km/h; 130 mph) in the Southern polar vortex.

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