Last October, Austrian base-jumper Felix Baumgartner did the impossible. He broke the sound barrier skydiving from 23 miles above the Earth. Cheyenne resident Don Day Jr. was the mission-control meteorologist on the Red Bull Stratos project.
Day has been working as a meteorologist for 20 years, but it was his experience as a hot air balloon pilot that gave him the opportunity to be the one calling the shots for the Red Bull Stratos project.
"I have had a history of working on projects, both civilian and military, on high altitude balloon projects so when this project came along I was chosen based on my experience in those endeavors," Day said.
Being invited to be apart of this historic project was exciting for Day, but also caused some trepidation.
"Launching big balloons like this is difficult, let alone put a person underneath one of these big balloons and have human cargo," Day said.
As mission-control meteorologist for the project, Day had final say if weather conditions were going to be good enough to attempt the jump.
"We had to have almost clear skies, clouds, no precipitation. We had to have good weather for him to land in," Day said.
Combine that with winds that could not exceed two miles per hour in the first 800 feet of Felix Baumgartner's ascent.
Day has launched many weather balloons carrying military and scientific payloads, but this was the greatest challenge he'd ever faced.
"We had a person's life in our hand and it was just as dangerous to put a person on board this capsule and to launch them in a big balloon as it was for him jumping," Day said.
Day says the spacesuit they developed for the project could help an astronaut survive a high altitude disaster.
It was a experience of a lifetime to break a free fall height and speed record that has stood since Joe Kittinger set it in 1960, but he knows records are made to be broken.
"I know very well that someone else is probably planning right now to break the record and best of luck to them. I hope they do. This is what it's about. Pushing the envelope. Trying new things," Day said.