Human Freefalls from 97,000 feet
/ July 31, 2012
Last Wednesday, pilot Felix Baumgartner completed the final milestone remaining before he attempts to achieve his dream of becoming the first person to break the speed of sound in freefall.
According to a press release, his test jump from a 5.3 million cubic-foot balloon achieved an altitude of more than 97,063 feet -- Baumgartner executed a 3-minute, 52-second freefall jump reaching speeds of 536 mph, landing in a desert area of New Mexico.
Baumgartner wore a pressurized space suit engineered especially for this mission by David Clark Co., according to redbullstratos.com, and is one of the key pieces of technology that could serve future generations of space travelers. Everything from a parachute that "thinks" for you with automatic safety systems, to a built-in gravity meter tasked with saving Baumgartner's life, was built on historical knowledge with the goal of preventing the "what-if's," according to the website.
Baumgartner's planned freefall from 120,000 feet would finally break the record of 102,800 feet set 52 years ago by the only man who has jumped from a higher altitude, Baumgartner’s mentor Joe Kittinger.
Red Bull Stratos is "a mission to the edge of space that will try to surpass human limits that have existed for more than 50 years."