The Man Who Fell To Earth

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On October 14, 2012, Felix Baumgartner broke several skydiving records by jumping from space to earth as part of Red Bull’s Stratos Project.  Baumgartner landed in eastern New Mexico after jumping from a then world record (later it was broken by Alan Eustace in 2014), 38,969.3 meters (127,852 feet) and falling a record distance of 36,402.6 meters.  Baumgartner also set the record for fastest speed of free fall at 1,357.64 km/hr (843.6 mph), making him the first human to break the sound barrier outside a vehicle.  Baumgartner was in free fall for 4 minutes and 19 seconds, 17 seconds short of mentor Joseph Kittinger’s 1960 jump.

See the full video below:

Felix Baumgartner was the first human to break the sound barrier outside of a vehicle.  The sonic boom is pictured.
Felix Baumgartner was the first human to break the sound barrier outside of a vehicle. The sonic boom is pictured.

Felix Baumgartner was the first human to break the sound barrier outside of a vehicle.  The sonic boom is shown by the cone-shaped condensation cloud in the picture to the right.

The purpose of the Red Bull Stratos mission is to transcend human limits. Supported by a team of experts Felix Baumgartner ascended to 128,100 feet in a stratospheric balloon and made a freefall jump rushing toward earth at supersonic speeds before parachuting to the ground. His successful feat on Oct. 14, 2012 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. Retired United States Air Force Colonel Joseph Kittinger, previously held the record jump from 102,800 ft in 1960. This was during a time when no one knew if a human could survive a jump from the edge of space. Joe was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and had already taken a balloon to 97,000 feet in Project ManHigh and survived a drogue mishap during a jump from 76,400 feet in Excelsior I. The Excelsior III mission was his 33rd parachute jump.

Although researching extremes was part of the program’s goals, setting records wasn’t the mission’s purpose. Joe ascended in helium balloon launched from the back of a truck. He wore a pressurized suit on the way up in an open, unpressurized gondola. Scientific data captured from Joe’s jump was shared with U.S. research personnel for development of the space program. Today Felix and his specialized team want to take what was learned from Joe’s jumps more than 50 years ago, and combine that with data aquired during Felix’s supersonic freefall.