As you will recall (or if not please follow this link) 43-year old Austrian Felix Baumgartner, in conjunction with Red Bull, intends to create a new supersonic freefall record. No personal parachute system has ever been used for a supersonic freefall from the edge of space. 5 years of development and testing have resulted in innovations including revolutionary drogue technology to stabilize Baumgartner if necessary. The whole container houses revolutionary safety technology which includes the drogue, a small stabilisation ‘chute, as well as two landing parachutes.
More than 100 expert personnel have come together from around the world to build and create this one-of-a-kind technology,
Just getting him up to space requires extraordinary technology:
This is not just an attempt at a personal record. Red Bull Stratos is also a scientific mission to 120,000 ft. Jumping from a stratospheric balloon one man will attempt to break the speed of sound in freefall. In March this year, Felix completed the first manned jump which was a culmination of testing equipment, the team, and the procedures together under real flight conditions. Felix is only the third person to have ever jumped from 71,615 ft. Although, this won’t be his highest freefall attempt, it’s high enough to verify the functionality of the pressurized space suit and the capsule’s abilities.
Since this is an effort to break the current world record, there are official records from the International Air Sports Federation (FAI) to verify this trial jump:
- Altitude reached: 71,615.2 ft / 21,828.3 meters
- Parachute opened at: 8,210.6 ft / 2,502.6 meters
- Freefall time: 3 minutes and 40 seconds
- The fastest ascent rate of the capsule: 1,200 feet per minute (estimate)
- Speed reached in freefall: 364.69 mph / 586.92 km per hour
His second test jump was from 29 kms (18 miles) above the Earth which is 29,610 m ( 97,145 ft), freefalling as fast as a commercial airliner (latest figures sanctioned by USPA and NAA). This jump was a significant achievement in ballooning history but it also proved that safety and recovery systems are functional in preparation for the 120,000 feet attempt. However, unfortunately the capsule was damaged when landing on rugged terrain and requires repairs so the final jump has been pushed back to Autumn.
Previous technicalities from Baumgartner’s first test flight had been resolved, such as bitterly cold temperatures permeating his protective gloves and freezing his hands to a point where he could barely pull his parachute rip cord. Baumgartner said right after landing: “The more practice you have, the more confidence you have. We now have a good feeling of what to expect and are ready to go.”
There was cause for champagne popping though because this fall was higher than planned, making it the second highest jump in history, eclipsed only by Joe Kittinger’s world record set in 1960.
The reassembled capsule will undergo a final test in an altitude chamber at Brooks-City Base in San Antonio, TX (Texas), which recreates a stratospheric environment here on Earth. Once this test has been completed successfully on or around 24 September, the craft will be certified safe to fly, with the final mission set for sometime in the first two weeks of October. During this period weather conditions are favorable with calm winds and clear skies essential for the launch of the delicate 55-story high balloon.
Watch this space… and in the meantime visit www.redbulletin.com to read the full feature and to download the Red Bulletin iPad app for free, for more sports, culture and lifestyle content.