Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Edge of Space

I've been following, on and off, the efforts to surpass Joe Kittinger's 52 year record for highest balloon ascent / highest parachute jump by Austrian Felix Baumgartner.

After a delayed launch for wind, today Baumgartner did it: jumped out of a capsule lifted by balloon to 128,000 feet (that's around 24 miles) and plunging earthward, broke the sound barrier (and quite a few records) without benefit of aircraft. During his freefall he achieved speeds of Mach 1.24. The ride up took about 2 1/2 hours; the trip down, 11 minutes. The whole thing reminded me a little of watching the NASA launches of Mercury back in the early 1960's.

Here's the trip down. Incidently, the gentleman talking is Joe Kittinger, the previous record holder, who acted as Baumgartner's mentor and was part of the team who pulled this feat off.

You can read more about this on Wikipedia; this was done with the corporate sponsorship of Red Bull energy drink. It was a stunt, but that's not a bad thing. We could all use a few heroics that don't involve dispensing death to others.

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