Daredevil B.A.S.E jumper Felix Baumgartner earned his place in the history books on Sunday after successfully completing his free fall jump from the edge of space, exactly 65 years after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier flying in an experimental rocket powered airplane.
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The Red Bull Stratos “Mission from the Edge of Space” wasn’t at all smooth-sailing, with the original launch on October 9 hampered by gusty winds and technical glitches. On Sunday, there was concerns over the power for his visor heater that impaired his vision and nearly jeopardised the mission.
[quote]“It was an incredible up and down today, just like it’s been with the whole project. First we got off with a beautiful launch and then we had a bit of drama with a power supply issue to my visor.” Felix Baumgartner describes his record breaking jump from the stratosphere.
“The exit was perfect but then I started spinning slowly. I thought I’d just spin a few times and that would be that, but then I started to speed up. It was really brutal at times. I thought for a few seconds that I’d lose consciousness. I didn’t feel a sonic boom because I was so busy just trying to stabilize myself. We’ll have to wait and see if we really broke the sound barrier. It was really a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.”[/quote]
After reaching an altitude of 128,100 feet (39,045 meters) in a helium-filled stratospheric balloon, Baumgartner reached an estimated speed of 833.9 mph / 1,342.8 km/h (Mach 1.24)*, breaking the sound barrier. This preliminary figure would make him the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall and set more records* while delivering valuable data for space exploration.
The Austrian also broke two other world records (highest freefall, highest manned balloon flight), leaving the longest freefall to project mentor Col. Joe Kittinger.
Red Bull Stratos, a mission to the edge of space, is an attempt to transcend human limits that have existed for 50 years. Baumgartner’s feat to challenge atmospheric limits holds the potential to provide valuable medical and scientific research data for future pioneers.
The Red Bull Stratos team brings together the world’s leading minds in aerospace medicine, engineering, pressure suit development, capsule creation and balloon fabrication. It includes retired United States Air Force Colonel Joseph Kittinger, who holds three of the records Felix will strive to break.
Colonel Kittinger’s record jump from 102,800 ft in 1960 was during a time when no one knew if a human could survive a jump from the edge of space. Col. Kittinger was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and had already taken a balloon to 97,000 feet in Project ManHigh.
Catch the video of Felix Baumgartner’s amazing jump here:
More incredible pictures in Red Bull Stratos gallery.
Balls of steel, Felix. Big congratulations from an ordinary human 🙂
Source: Red Bull Stratos
* The data on the records set by the jump are preliminary pending confirmation from the authorised governing bodies.