Alan Eustace
Eustace in 2008
Robert Alan Eustace[1]

1956 or 1957 (age 66–67)[2]
Alma materUniversity of Central Florida
OccupationComputer scientist
Known forWorld record for the highest-altitude free-fall jump
Board member ofAnita Borg Institute for Women and Technology

Robert Alan Eustace (born 1957) is an American computer scientist who served as Senior Vice President of Engineering and first Senior Vice President for Knowledge at Google until retiring in 2015.[3] On October 24, 2014, he made a free-fall jump from the stratosphere, breaking Felix Baumgartner's world record. The jump was from 135,890 feet (41.42 km) and lasted 15 minutes, an altitude record that stands as of 2024.[2][4] He won the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year in 2015.[5]

Early years

The son of a Martin Marietta engineer, Eustace grew up in Pine Hills, Florida, then a working-class suburb of Orlando, where small ranch houses had been built for employees of the Martin Marietta Corporation.[6] After graduating from Maynard Evans High School in 1974, he received a debate scholarship from Valencia College and attended it for a year before transferring to Florida Technological University—now known as the University of Central Florida—to major in mechanical engineering.[6]

As a university student, Eustace worked part-time selling popcorn and ice cream in Fantasyland and working on the monorail at Walt Disney World.[6] After taking a class on computer science, he decided to switch majors and ended up completing three academic degrees in the field, including a doctorate in 1984.[6]

Professional career

After graduation, Eustace worked briefly for Silicon Solutions, a startup in Silicon Valley,[6] before joining Digital, Compaq and then HP's Western Research Laboratory, where he worked 15 years on pocket computing, chip multi-processors, power and energy management, internet performance, and frequency and voltage scaling. In the mid-1990s, he worked with Amitabh Srivastava on ATOM, a binary-code instrumentation system that forms the basis for a wide variety of program analysis and computer architecture analysis tools. [7] These tools had a profound influence on the EV5, EV6 and EV7 chip designs.

Eustace was appointed head of the laboratory in 1999, but left it three years later to join Google, then a new startup.[6] At Google, he worked as Senior Vice President of Engineering until he retired from that section of Google on March 27, 2015.

Eustace is currently Technical Advisor[8] at Opener Aerospace, sometimes giving interviews[1] about their electric VTOL aircraft, the Opener BlackFly.

In the course of his professional career, Eustace co-authored nine publications and appeared as co-inventor in ten patents.

Stratosphere jump

Comparisons: Jump altitudes by Alan Eustace and others versus atmospheric temperature and pressure

In 2011, Eustace decided to pursue a stratosphere jump and met with Taber MacCallum, one of the founding members of Biosphere 2, to begin preparations for the project.[2] Over the next three years, the Paragon Space Development technical team designed and redesigned many of the components of his parachute and life-support system.[1][2] The Paragon team integrated systems for the Stratospheric Explorer mission code named StratEx Space Dive.[9]

Eustace's suit on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center

On October 24, 2014, Eustace made a jump from the stratosphere, breaking Felix Baumgartner's 2012 world record.[10] The launch-point for his jump was from an abandoned runway in Roswell, New Mexico, where he began his gas balloon-powered ascent early that morning.[10] He reached a reported maximum altitude of 135,908 feet (41.425 km; 25.7402 mi), but the final number submitted to the World Air Sports Federation was 135,889.108 feet (41.419000 km; 25.7365735 mi).[2] The balloon used for the feat was manufactured by the Balloon Facility of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Hyderabad, India.[1] Eustace in his pressure suit hung tethered under the balloon, without the kind of capsule used by Felix Baumgartner. Eustace started his fall by using an explosive device to separate from the helium balloon.[11]

His descent to Earth lasted 4 minutes and 27 seconds[12] and stretched nearly 26 miles (42 km) with peak speeds exceeding 822 miles per hour (1,323 km/h),[10] setting new world records for the highest free-fall jump and total free-fall distance 123,414 feet (37.617 km; 23.3739 mi).[13] However, because Eustace's jump involved a drogue parachute, while Baumgartner's did not, their vertical speed and free-fall distance records remain in different categories.[14][15]

Unlike Baumgartner, Eustace, a twin-engine jet pilot, was not widely known as a daredevil prior to his jump.[2]

Eustace's world record jump was featured in two episodes of STEM in 30, a television show geared towards middle-school students by the National Air and Space Museum.[16]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "StratEx". Paragon. Retrieved October 27, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Markoff, John (October 24, 2014). "Parachutist's Record-Breaking Fall: 26 Miles, 15 Minutes". The New York Times. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  3. ^ "Management team". Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  4. ^ Markoff, John (October 27, 2014). "15 Minutes of Free Fall Required Years of Taming Scientific Challenges - For World Record, Alan Eustace Fought Atmosphere and Equipment". The New York Times. Retrieved October 31, 2014.
  5. ^ "PAST WINNERS". Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Kassab, Beth (December 13, 2011). "Google exec remembers growing up in Pine Hills". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
  7. ^ A. Srivastava and A. Eustace, ATOM: A system for building customized program analysis tools, Proceedings of the ACM SIGPLAN Conference on Programming language design and implementation (PLDI '94), pp. 196–205, 1994; ACM SIGPLAN Notices - Best of PLDI 1979-1999 Homepage archive, Vol. 39, No. 4, pp. 528–539; doi:10.1145/989393.989446
  8. ^ "Opener".
  9. ^ "StratEx Mission". Paragon. Retrieved December 8, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c "Google VP's 135,908-foot leap breaks world record for highest free-fall parachute jump". The Verge. October 24, 2014. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  11. ^ Leidich, Jared (September 29, 2016). The Wild Black Yonder. Denver, CO: Stratospheric Publishing. ISBN 978-0997691900.
  12. ^ Eustace, Alan. "Transcript of "I leapt from the stratosphere. Here's how I did it"". Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  13. ^ "Google's Alan Eustace beats Baumgartner's skydiving record". BBC News. October 24, 2014. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
  14. ^ "Baumgartner's Records Ratified by FAI!". FAI. February 22, 2013. Archived from the original on March 2, 2013. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  15. ^ "Alan Eustace, D-7426, Bests High-Altitude World Record". U.S. Parachute Association. October 24, 2014. Archived from the original on October 3, 2015. Retrieved October 26, 2014.
  16. ^ The Engineering Behind a Record-Breaking Skydive, retrieved February 6, 2019

Further reading

Records Preceded by Felix Baumgartner Highest space dive (41.419 km) October 24, 2014 – present Current holder