Baumgartner Breaks World Record for Highest Sky Dive in Historic Jump-UPDTE 2

Baumgartner Breaks World Record for Highest Sky Dive in Historic Jump-UPDTE 2

UPDATE 2, FEBRUARY 5, 2013:  The Associated Press reported in February 2013 that further analysis showed that Baumgartner’s altitude was slightly lower, but his speed was slightly higher, than initially indicated.  His altitude was 127,852 feet, 248 feet lower than thought.  His top speed was 843.6 miles per hour, instead of 834 mph as initially thought.   He reached Mach 1.25 rather than Mach 1.24.

UPDATE:   Information and quotes from Sunday’s press conference have been added, including whether or not he broke the sound barrier.

“The decision has been made…Baumgartner will jump!” This was the statement made at 1:40 pm ET today (October 14, 2012) after a stratospheric balloon carrying a capsule with Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner had reached an altitude of over 120,000 feet.

Earlier today the world watched as Baumgartner completed what sponsor Red Bull has named the “Mission to the Edge of Space.” Five years in the making, on the anniversary of Chuck Yeager’s breaking the speed of sound in an airplane in 1947 and after attempts earlier this week had to be rescheduled, the Red Bull Stratos jump was successful.

Early this morning in Roswell, New Mexico, Baumgartner was given the green light to jump from a special capsule at over 120,000 feet and attempt to break three world records on his way to the surface: highest “manned” balloon flight, highest sky dive and longest skydive. Baumgartner was also attempting to become the first person to break the speed of sound with his body.

Red Bull Stratos provided live coverage of the event. After more than two hours of ascent and having reached almost 128,000 feet in altitude, Joe Kittinger, capsule communicator and in charge of flight operations and safety for this event began running through the “egress checklist” with Baumgartner.  Some 29 items included turning on chest cameras, pressurizing the spacesuit, depressurizing the capsule and getting into position for the jump. The 84-year-old Kittinger set the current records for highest and longest skydive in 1960 and is Baumgartner’s mentor.  Acutely aware of the many dangers of the attempt, Kittinger told Baumgartner that “a guardian angel will take care of you.”

At approximately 2:08 pm ET, Baumgartner jumped. During approximately 4 minutes and 22 seconds of free flight before parachute deployment, Baumgartner could be seen as a small blip on the screen, tumbling before assuming what was described as a “controlled descent.” Although his voice was not always clear, Baumgartner kept ongoing communication with the control team and even noted that his visor was fogging up.

While parachuting the last few thousand feet to the surface, Baumgartner could be clearly seen thanks to coverage from nearby helicopters.  Ground control kept him apprised of wind direction to help control his descent. Shortly thereafter and some ten minutes after jumping out of the capsule, Baumgartner landed safely on his feet.

The records are not yet officially confirmed by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), but the data available immediately afterwards demonstrate that Baumgartner broke the previous records for highest “manned” balloon flight and highest skydive and he achieved the distinction of being the first human to break the speed of sound with his body, traveling at 834 miles per hour (Mach 1.24).  The duration of his free fall,4 minutes 20 seconds, however, apparently was 16 seconds less than the record held by Kittinger, so that record remains to be broken.  

Baumgartner said “It really was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.”  He said that the spinning at the beginning of his free fall began slowly but grew faster and “was really brutal at times.” 

In addition to making the history books, the stunt aimed to contribute medical and scientific data that could support future human spaceflight missions, including the development of next generation space suits and of protocols for high altitude and high acceleration exposure.  One potential benefit of today’s feat is demonstrating the capability of enabling astronauts the option to exit their spacecraft during ascent in the event of an emergency.

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