Skydiver Jumps From Record 128,000 Feet, Breaks Sound Barrier
October 14, 2012 5:50 PM
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Baumgartner used a helium balloon to travel the 24 miles up, and jumped safely to the ground
A daredevil skydiver has landed safely on the ground after
jumping from the edge of space
Felix Baumgartner, an Austrian helicopter pilot and former soldier, made a risky jump from a helium balloon at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday morning. He broke the record for the highest jump at 128,000 feet (or 24 miles) above Earth.
One of Baumgartner's goals during the jump was to break the speed of sound, which would make him the first human to do so without the protection of a vehicle. According to reports, he was able to achieve this.
Baumgartner used a
to travel the 24 miles up, which was made of material only .0008 of an inch thick. The balloon posed risks on its own, with its shape and size changing as it climbed higher toward space.
Baumgartner wore only a pressurized helmet and suit, which weighed 100 pounds total. He also had sensors and recorders attached to him, which kept an eye on his speed, heart rate, etc.
Once Baumgartner reached the 24 miles, he jumped out of the capsule attached to the helium balloon and fell for less than five minutes. He crouched into a "delta" position to maximize acceleration, and then deployed his parachute for the remaining 5,000 feet toward Earth. His maximum speed was Mach 1.24 (833.9 mph), breaking the sound barrier.
Many things could have gone wrong during the jump. For instance, the pressurized suit could have proved to be too weak, allowing Baumgartner's blood to vaporize in the thin atmosphere. It was also 70 degrees below zero Fahrenheit in some cases during the fall, which could have sent Baumgartner into hypothermia. If Baumgartner were to lose consciousness at any time during the fall, he would have to depend on his parachute deploying automatically.
On top of that, breaking the sound barrier could have had unknown effects on the body.
"You have to remember all the procedures," said Baumgartner. "You know you're in a really hostile environment. And you cannot think about anything else. You have to be focused. Otherwise, you're gonna die."
Baumgartner nearly made the jump last Tuesday, but foul weather delayed his record-breaking jump another five days. He was preparing the balloon at his launch site in Roswell, New Mexico, but a large gust of wind twisted the balloon to the point of destroying it.
Baumgartner landed in the eastern New Mexico desert safely Sunday afternoon.
You can rewatch the event right here courtesy of YouTube:
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
10/15/2012 2:32:39 PM
Why? Thought he'd hit something?
Even at more pedestrian altitudes for skydiving, it is possible to spin out of control, lose conscience. And even at 'slower' speeds seen by freefliers and speed divers (200-300+ mph), you can hurt yourself if you lose control and tumble - the sudden extra drag can punish the limbs. Just stick your hand out the window of a car going 60 and now imagine 10x the force being abruptly applied.
This jump isn't a simple matter of putting on the suit and taking that first step, even for the skydivers.
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