It is quite amusingly surreal to know that an energy drink company has a better space program than your country does. Yet, on Sunday October 14th Red Bull Stratos sent 43-year-old Austrian Felix Baumgartner 24 miles above the Earth’s surface to jump out of a giant helium balloon in an attempt to break several world records, and amazingly succeeded.
By completing this historic jump, Felix Baumgartner broke the records for the highest ever skydive from a balloon at an exit altitude of 128,100ft (39,045m) and furthest ever freefall which lasted 119,846ft (36,529m), and set a new record for becoming the first person to freefall faster than the speed of sound (Mach 1), attaining a maximum velocity of 833.9mph (373m/s) and a speed of Mach 1.24.
Baumgartner smashed the previous record for highest freefall set in 1960 by Joe Kittinger, a current member of Baumgartner’s mission team, which stood at 102,800ft (31km). However, Kittinger’s record for longest freefall still remains; where he fell for 4 and a half minutes before deploying his parachute, roughly 10 seconds longer than Baumgartner’s jump and 15 seconds longer than Tom Petty’s classic hit “Free Fallin’”.
…he landed safely in New Mexico…
In total, Baumgartner’s jump lasted for just over 9 minutes, where his freefall reached an average speed of 312mph, or 140m/s. Thankfully, Baumgartner was supplied with a parachute rather than a can of Red Bull and a pair of wings to ensure that he landed safely in New Mexico.
His accomplishments are not limited to the Red Bull Stratos mission, however. Before spending 5 years training for this latest effort, Felix spent several years jumping from the world’s tallest buildings and bridges, as well as completing the world’s lowest B.A.S.E (buildings, antennae, spans or earth) jump off of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue.
…one of the most memorable days of the year…
Undoubtedly, October 14th will go down as one of the most memorable days of the year, if not decade, with the only thing stopping the event from reaching truly legendary status being that Baumgartner didn’t take the chance to dance ‘Gangnam’ style off the edge of his balloon, but there’s always next time, right?