Have you ever looked out the window of an airplane and been terrified of what would happen if you jumped out if it? On October 14, 2012, an Austrian man turned that fear into a shockingly breathtaking reality, only he didn’t jump out of an aircraft. Felix Baumgartner jumped from a carefully planned capsule, sponsored by Red Bull, giving a whole new meaning to the famous tagline “Red Bull gives you wings.”
The mission, sponsored by Red Bull, has been coined the “Red Bull Stratos Jump.” Baumgartner made the jump, which lasted over 9 minutes, over the state of New Mexico, and plummeted to the earth from over 24 miles (119,846 feet) above it. He not only broke the sound barrier (registering at Mach 1.24 according to the Huffington Post), he also broke the world record for being the first person to reach a supersonic speed without traveling in a jet or spacecraft, but rather just freefalling to the earth’s surface.
Baumgartner’s jump had no affiliation whatsoever with NASA, but NASA attended the jump, eager to learn from the technology developed to make this jump possible. In order to make the jump his team had to design a special suit for him. If a tear had occurred in his suit, according the Huffington Post, he would have been exposed to temperatures as low as -70 degrees as well as virtually no oxygen.
Luckily Felix’s jump was successful and he experienced no problems in his suit or with the jump. He pulled his parachute at around 5,000 feet above the earth’s surface as planned and touched down in New Mexico without a scratch. Once he landed he thrust both of his arms into the air claiming a victory.
Felix, as quoted online in the Fox News Article about the jump stated ““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,” Baumgartner said after Sunday’s jump. “The only thing you want is to come back alive.”
An interesting idea to take away from this extraordinary jump is that it paves the way for private space exploration. One day some of us may be able to enjoy visiting outer space, and the technology used to develop Baumgartner’s suit could very well be used as emergency gear in the future of space exploration. NASA is already in the process of looking for emergency evacuation gear for the space station and this jump has helped pave the way for it.
Want to learn more about this exciting piece of history? Watch the jump on YouTube at http://youtu.be/8Oq2Xl7oiws. Or visit the Red Bull Stratos project website at http://www.redbullstratos.com/.