one big jump for mankind.
Last week millions around the world tuned into Red Bull’s highly anticipated moment of television, when daredevil Felix Baumgartner was gearing up to take the bewildering dive from the edge of space in a free fall experience. Due to weather conditions, the stunt was pushed back several times, but last night (EST) the brave 43 year-old made the move by jumping off a steel platform 39km up from Earth.
The distance was significantly higher than first planned and the initial expected speed was of his fall was expected to hit 1136km/h, but after much consideration on the spot, Baumgartner floated down to Earth with a red and white parachute at 11342km/h.
Baumgartner later spoke of unexpected problems in the moments of his fall, explaining that he had impaired vision from his fogging helmet visor, which could have initiated yet another abortion of the stunt.
“When I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble, you do not think about breaking records anymore, you do not think about gaining scientific data. The only thing you want is to come back alive,” he said in a press conference.
Travelling at 1.24 times the speed of sound, Baumgartner made the stunt with no previous references or experience to guide his jump. His mission control panel “erupted in cheers” after he made an apparent near-perfect jump from the capsule, which was manoeuvred into the stratosphere by a giant helium-filled balloon, at 128,000 feet.
In live footage, just moments before his jump, Baumgartner told the world, “Sometimes you have to up go up really high to realise how small you are”.
The Austrian daredevil had been planning the experience for seven years, and after the two-hour journey upwards into position, Baumgartner had already broken one record before jumping, that being the highest altitude for a manned balloon flight (113,740 feet from 1961, beaten).
The planning of the stunt raised several concerns, including the biggest risk of Baumgartner facing losing consciousness from intense G forces. Additionally, experts were worried that the skydiver’s blood could have reached boiling point, if the slightest tear or crack in his spacesuit became apparent.
Luckily for him, however, the jump went flawlessly, and a massive 7.3 million viewers tuned in to experience his record-breaking moment.