Daredevil takes HD to new heights

The Red Bull Stratos, the 120,000ft skydive from the edge of space, was a mission that transcended human limits.

Felix Baumgartner, renowned extreme base jumper and skydiver, ascended to 24mi in a stratospheric balloon and made a free fall jump rushing toward earth at supersonic speeds before parachuting to the ground breaking several world records with one jump: the highest skydive, the longest free fall, the first to reach supersonic speeds in free fall and the highest manned balloon ride.

For communication among Baumgartner, the team members at the launch site and mission control, Red Bull used a comprehensive communications system from Riedel Communications.

Riedel provided the entire communications system for the project, integrating both wireless and wired digital intercom systems. The company also furnished the fiber-based video and signal distribution as well as the wireless video links from the capsule’s onboard cameras.

For the capsule that transported Baumgartner into the stratosphere, Riedel provided the on-board video control system for nine HD video cameras with specially developed telemetry control. The system was responsible for the control of the video recording and also worked as a comprehensive digital video router — much like a mini OB truck inside the capsule. It offered complete remote control of the whole video system and featured three HD video downlinks that were dynamically assigned to the selected cameras.

For providing a communication between Baumgartner and Mission Control a specially developed communications system from Riedel was used.

The communications infrastructure on-site included the entire compound, the mission control, the production offices, the media/press center and the OB truck. All of these facilities and positions were integrated into a single communications infrastructure via a Riedel Artist Digital Matrix system. The redundant ring topology made the Artist system a reliable system for the mission critical application.

Riedel also furnished the on-site digital radio network with more than 100 radio receivers and 10 channels, which were seamlessly integrated into the wired matrix intercom system. This means radio users were able to directly talk to intercom users and vice versa.

All video signals on ground were distributed and routed with Riedel's MediorNet technology. MediorNet is a fiber-based real-time network for HD video, audio, communications and data signals that also provides integrated signal processing.

For the Red Bull Stratos project, 24 Riedel MediorNet nodes were installed in a redundant ring topology to provide maximum reliability. In case of a potential connection loss between two nodes, the signals would still have been distributed due to the redundant topology. The connection to the launch pad also was made with the MediorNet system — this time with two MediorNet Compact frames that were connected to the main system. All links in the MediorNet system were made with Riedel PURE, a robust, tactical fiber equipped with ruggedized Neutrik OpticalCON Quad connectors.

The MediorNet backbone transported all video signals of the Red Bull Stratos mission as well as all signals from the OB truck and from the tracking truck. It also distributed the broadcast audio between Mission Control and recording facility. Telemetry data used by some broadcasters for things like the Moving Map also was transported via MediorNet.