Skydive from space
When all the world’s media is overcome with the jaw-slackening, hypnosis-inducing stimulant usually known only to Amazing Stuff readers, it’s like our cool little party has suddenly been invaded by crowds of raving gatecrashers: at first we’re a bit shy, but then we’ve got to admit we’re glad they like this stuff too, and rave on.
What we’re all raving about is Felix Baumgartner’s epic skydive from space, which he successfully completed yesterday over the New Mexico desert. The image of the lone 43-year-old Austrian leaping into space from his tiny Red Bull-branded balloon capsule has already become an icon of human courage (and 21st century brand promotion).
Baumgartner prepares for the jump
The interior of the tiny capsule
Baumgartner broke three world records with his skydive from space. Beginning at a height of 24 miles (39 km) above the surface of the Earth, this was the highest manned balloon flight. At the moment he jumped it became the highest freefall. And perhaps most amazingly, ‘Fearless Felix’ became the first skydiver to go faster than the speed of sound, reaching a maximum velocity of 833.9 mph (1,342 km/h).
But an unprecedented jump like this isn’t guaranteed glory; Baumgartner’s life was literally in the balance during the 10-minute descent as he began to spin uncontrollably, but his experience of 2,500 skydives helped him through: “In that situation, when you spin around, it’s like hell and you don’t know if you can get out of that spin or not,” he reported after the jump. “Of course it was terrifying. I was fighting all the way down because I knew that there must be a moment where I can handle it.” After hitting the relative cushion of the Earth’s atmosphere, Baumgartner was able to open his parachute and glide down to land casually on his feet.
And the wingsuit flyers think they’re cool…
Skydive from space – mission success!
Part of the 100-strong Red Bull Stratos team behind the skydive from space was retired US Air Force Colonel Joe Kittinger, whose records for highest freefall and highest manned balloon flight have stood since 1960. As Felix’s mentor for the jump, Kittinger was the man on the other end of the radio. More background in the video below:
“Let me tell you – when I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble. You don’t think about breaking records anymore, you don’t think about gaining scientific data – the only thing that you want is to come back alive.”
– Felix Baumgartner
Baumgartner’s iconic feat already has one ‘spin off’ — see the skydive from space in Lego here…
Check out the Red Bull Stratos website for loads more vids, pics and info