Everyone knows about Felix Baumgartner.
The man set a record for the highest skydive in history. Plus, it was all broadcast on the Internet with Red Bull logos as far as the eye could see.
Who you may not know is Alan Eustace, a corporate executive with dreams of jumping even higher. He was willing to put the time, effort and money into helping create new space suits and equipment to make it happen.
Fortunately, we have the documentary “14 Minutes From Earth” to rectify that.
It’s important to note that Eustace was at one time the Senior Vice President of Knowledge at Google. Anyone familiar with the company knows the risks it’s willing to make in order to advance humanity with what are known as their Moonshot Projects.
Efforts to come out of the company’s Google X division include driverless cars, Google Glass and Project Loon (provide Internet access to the developing world using balloons). So it should come as no surprise that someone so driven to such a crazy idea came out of Team Google.
FAST FACT: Google wanted to help Alan Eustace in his mission to break Felix Baumgartner’s skydiving record. He politely refused, saying he didn’t want it to become a marketing stunt.
Where “14 Minutes” really grabs us is showing the process behind an attempt at the highest skydive in history (over 25 miles high). Can Eustace really make history?
Attempting to jump from that high entailed creating a space suit from scratch, which was a first for a private individual. Seeing all the work that went into creating the apparatus to send him soaring to those staggering heights and let ground control keep track of him is truly impressive.
If there are any issues with the film, it’s that the filmmakers draw out drama and tension a few too many times. That undermines moments that should drive you to the edge of your seat.
The other flaw that may not affect everyone is the constant narration. It sounds like something you’d expect out of the Science Channel or “Mythbusters.” Granted, it would be anything but shocking to see this film pop up on that channel. It still can be grating.
Ultimately, anyone who geeks out at the thought of taking on a project better suited to NASA on his or her own and wants to know all about the intricacies of making it happen should watch “14 Minutes From Earth.”
There is a treasure trove of information to dig into if you can get by the minor storytelling setbacks. One can only hope that Eustace’s story will encourage current and future generations to continue to push the limits of human capability and knowledge.