Felix Baumgartner Jump From The Edge of Space
Today a long standing record was shattered when Felix Baumgartner jumped from a helium filled baloon from 128,100 feet, or 24 miles. The former record was set in 1960 by Col. Joe Kittinger, who jumped from 102,800 feet as part of a U.S. Air Force mission. Kittinger was a consultant on Baumgartner’s effort and was his main communication with mission control assisting him with the final checklist items before the jump.
As he stepped off of the platform in near vacuum of space there was no friction to slow him. He free fell to a speed of 833.9 mph, or Mach 1.24, smashing his goal to break the sound barrier. When he stepped off of the balloon his attitude seemed to be stable but after a few seconds he could be spinning a a fast rate, unable to control his position in the thin air.
“There was a period of time where I really thought, ‘I am in trouble,'” Baumgartner said, as he explained he almost deployed his chute early ending his goal to fly supersonic. “But after a couple of seconds, I had that feeling I’m getting it under control. And I did,” he added. “And that’s why I broke the speed of sound today.” As he fell into the thicker air at lower altitude he regained control and could be seen in a stable free fall for over four minutes. If the spin had continued he could have lost consciousness and would have had to rely on an automatic system to deploy his parachute and save his life. The only technical malfunction was a fogging over of his visor as he descended.
He made a picture perfect landing a few minutes after he started his decent.