On Tuesday 20th November, with 100 days on the clock until the official departure of the Xtreme Everest 2 expedition, the team were unable to wait for the surrounding air pressure to drop on its own accord.
Instead they embarked on a daring expedition to the moors of Upper Thrupe Farm, Wells to visit illustrious high altitude balloonist and expedition engineer Andy Elson and his hypobaric chamber. By reducing the the air pressure within this chamber, we were able to simulate conditions at high altitiude.
Andy knows high altitude better than almost anyone, spending more time over 40,000ft in a balloon than any other human. He is also the first and only man to have ever flown a balloon over Everest. Through extensive experience in the thin air he has felt the need to construct a fully functional hypobaric chamber in a convenient location, his back-garden, to make sure the stratosphere is never too far away.
As always with the Xtreme team there is method behind the apparent madness. With a number of new pieces of laboratory equipment and techniques never attempted at high altitude we deemed it necessary to perform a dry run a little closer to home before transporting kit thousands of miles only to find it broken at base camp.
Following in Xtreme Everest's footsteps, the team made a strict simulated ascent profile (with safety input from NASA scientists) to ensure all who entered the chamber were at no undue risk during testing. All members entering the chamber enjoyed their short stint of tube life, with all tests being completed successfully, thus green lighting some of our more ambitious research stems.
Great thanks must be reiterated to Andy Elson and his team for the success of the day and their continuing support towards our science. We look forward to returning to the chamber again to test and modify our generators.
To find out more about Andy and his achievements, use the link below.