Skydiving From the Stratosphere
Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner set three world records during an epic skydiving feat on October 14, 2012. In one historic jump, Baumgartner set the world record for the highest altitude of a manned balloon flight. He also set world skydiving records for the greatest free fall speed and the highest parachute jump. Red Bull sponsored that jump in a project known as “Stratos.” By now, millions of people around the globe have seen footage of Baumgartner stepping out of his ballooned capsule, 24 miles above the Earth. The capsule looks something like the landing pods that would crash down into the ocean following the Apollo missions, and Baumgartner himself is dressed in an outfit that looks more appropriate for a spacewalk than a skydiving experience. During his fall, Baumgartner reached a speed of over 843 miles per hour and became the first human being to break the sound barrier without the use of an engine. If you’ve ever been skydiving, you know that falling at 120 miles per hour, the typical skydiving free fall velocity, is exhilarating but is also a rather intense experience. Multiply that by seven, and you get a little bit of an idea of what Baumgartner experienced.
People around the world are obviously inspired by Baumgartner’s story. The video below was uploaded to YouTube yesterday, January 31, and it already has over 1.5 million views. We’re in an age when human beings are no longer personally exploring new frontiers. The days of exploring new worlds across the Earth’s oceans are long over. It’s been over 40 years since we’ve been to the moon, and our missions to explore other planets in our solar system are unmanned. The popularity of Baumgartner’s jump shows that there is still a sense of wonder for those who push the boundaries of what is physically possible. The video below provides additional, just released footage from Baumgartner’s jump, including first-hand footage of the entire free fall. The heart rate, velocity and altitude meters are interesting to watch. As you can see, Baumgartner was pretty nervous when he was descending at over 700 miles per hour, but as he slowed to that magic, normal skydiving speed of 120 miles per hour, he calmed quite a bit. Check it out below.