Task & Purpose illustration by Matt Battaglia

In 2012, legendary BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner jumped from a helium balloon 24 miles above the Earth to set the record for highest ever free-fall. Red Bull, the sponsor, had poured more than $65 million into the project and employed some of the world’s most eminent scientists and engineers to see it through, but the mission was nearly a complete failure — not because of any technical issues, but because in the months leading up to the jump, Baumgartner had developed a crippling fear of his space suit.

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