STRATOBASKET 

 

Mrs. Piccard Type Stratospheric Crash Helmet Mk I (REPLICA)

On 27 May 1931 Swiss professor for physics Auguste Piccard (1884-1962) and his assistent Paul Kipfer (1905-1980) took off from Augsburg in Germany in a successful attempt to collect data from the stratosphere and to measure cosmic rays.

In a Piccard-designed and -constructed spherical, pressurized aluminium gondola which would allow ascent to great altitude without requiring a pressure suit, a hot air balloon took them to a record altitude of 15,781 m (51,775 ft).

1931 pattern, experimental stop-gap crash helmet intended for stratospheric balloon flight.

 

Background:

 

Developed according to specifications defined by the extreme needs of high altitude flight, this type of crash helmet incorporates many newly developed safety features deemed essential for crew survival in the hostile environment of suborbital space flight. According to some sources it has been officially credited by NASA to have been used in space, so it can be considered the very first astronaut helmet. The existence of only two specimen can be documented photographically.

 

Construction:

 

It’s lightweight, basket-pattern construction allows for easy donning and removal, free movement and drastically reduces the risk of neck muscle spasms during violent oscillations in lower space. Adequate netting structure provides efficient cooling by controlling airflow according to the wearers specific mission needs while providing basic protection against cosmic rays and micro-meteorites. Its somewhat cumbersome appearance should not deceive from its superior performance in absorbing shock while bumping into the alloy gondola structure, valves, tubes, copilots, picnic baskets including thermos flasks and other equipment. Its advanced noise reduction concept lining enables two-way voice communication while reducing noise to an acceptable level during possible gas valve malfunctions.

 

Other features:

 

Noise reduction and shock absorbing qualities are enhanced by a sophisticated lining consisting of state-of-the-art (i.e. 1930's "space edge") fabric material. Sufficient moisture control and easy maintenance (needle and thread) are further strong points of this material. A series of adjustable retaining straps attached to both sides of the helmet allow for a snug fit of the cloth lining which also protects the vital reception organs from frostbite. It must be said, though, that the field of vision might be reduced during certain manoeuvers, especially during high G loads.

 

Possible developments:

 

No provision for earphones or microphones are fitted, but can easily be added should need arise (quote Mrs. Piccard).

 

Standard unshatterable corrected high altitude balloon flight spectacles, Mk.III space frock, anti-gravity necktie and state-of-the–art under-nose space dust particle filtering device are completing the outfit.