“Today at 11:30am EDT, the Stratus capsule launched in a two-hour journey to the highest point ever achieved by any human using a balloon. Felix reached more than 127,000 feet up in the sky. The door of his capsule opened as the pressure equalized with the atmosphere outside. He pushed his seat forward, got out of the hatch breathing heavily and, as if it was the most normal thing in the world, he jumped away.” (gizmodo.com)
Who is this guy? On the anniversary of Chuck Yeager’s historic flight breaking the sound barrier, a man most people have never heard of broke it again, with nothing to propel him except gravity.
His name is Felix Baumgartner and here is what Red Bull, his sponsor, says about him.
“With a passion for expanding boundaries, especially in the air, Red Bull Stratos pilot Felix Baumgartner is an expert parachutist best known for completing an unprecedented freefall flight across the English Channel using a carbon wing.
“Felix, born April 20, 1969, grew up in Salzburg, Austria where he dreamed of skydiving and flying helicopters and was inspired by astronauts on TV. He made his first skydive at age 16. After sharpening his parachute skills as a member of a Special Forces demonstration team for the Austrian military, he supported himself by repairing motorcycles before becoming a skydiving professional.
“Eager to test the limits, Felix set a record for history’s lowest BASE jump (from Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue), twice set world records for the highest BASE jump from a building (Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur and Taipei 101 tower), and even landed his canopy inside a cave in Croatia.”
If you are a space geek, sit back and watch this video – it gives you a bird’s eye view of the whole thing.
Just before jumping, Baumgartner said, “The whole world is watching now, and I wish they could see what I see. Sometimes you have get up really high (to realize) how small you are.” Then (at 2:09) he jumped.
During the fall, he fell into an uncontrollable spin that nearly made him lose consciousness (at around the 3:00 mark), and as he entered thicker atmosphere his erratic flight began to slow his rate of descent.
But he fought through the spin and regained a controlled descent (3:19), and finally broke the speed of sound.
Remarkable. 2012 has been a good year for those who are fascinated by space. Felix Baumgartner, with a nod to Brigadier General Chuck Yeager who reprised his famous flight today as well, is our hero of the week.