Felix Baumgartner Breaks Record For Manned Balloon Flight

Filed under: Florida News |

Felix Baumgartner may have become the world’s first supersonic skydiver with a 24-mile free fall over New Mexico earlier today.

The weather was finally favorable as his team unpacked the 30-million cubic foot helium balloon that hoisted the 3,000-pound capsule carrying him to nearly 130,000 feet into the sky. The journey took him to 128,097 feet at a rate of 1,000 feet per minute around 2 hours 35 minutes from the launch time of approximately 10.40am MDT this morning.

Baumgartner became the first skydiver to break the sound barrier by jumping from a capsule as he floated more than 128,000 feet, 24.5 miles high, into the stratosphere by an ultra-thin, 55-story helium balloon. On television replays he reached a speed of 706 mph which breaks the 690mph speed of sound mark, although this has still to be verified by official sources.

Baumgartner landed safely with his parachute in the desert of New Mexico after jumping out of his space capsule at 127,952 feet, 39,044 meters and plunging back towards earth, hitting a maximum of speed of 706 mph /1,137 km/h through the near vacuum of the stratosphere before being slowed by the atmosphere later during his 4:19-minute long freefall. Baumgartner’s jump lasted a total of 9:03 minutes.

The jump held huge interest for everyone at Florida Leisure as we got to meet Joe Kittinger, an Orlando resident, recently. Joe is a lead member of Baumgartner’s team, and the only member of mission control who communicated directly with Baumgartner during his nearly three-hour ascent in the pressurized capsule.

Kittinger, (pictured above right with me) said his 1960 jump was also delayed by weather. He leapt from a helium balloon-floated, open-air gondola from an altitude of 19.5 miles. Kittinger reached 614 mph, or Mach 0.9 during his jump.

‘I was ready to go and had to wait,’ Kittinger said at the briefing. ‘It’s frustrating. But you have to go through it. What you see is what you get. If we had a problem we worked together as a team. He did perfect he took the options, and made it work.” 

After the jump a relieved Baumgartner said: “It was an incredible up and down today, just like it’s been with the whole project. First we got off with a beautiful launch and then we had a bit of drama with a power supply issue to my visor. The exit was perfect but then I started spinning slowly. I thought I’d just spin a few times and that would be that, but then I started to speed up. It was really brutal at times. I thought for a few seconds that I’d lose consciousness. I didn’t feel a sonic boom because I was so busy just trying to stabilize myself. We’ll have to wait and see if we really broke the sound barrier. It was really a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.”

Baumgartner and his team spent five years training and preparing for the mission that is designed to improve our scientific understanding of how the body copes with the extreme conditions at the edge of space.

He added: “One of the most exciting moments was standing out on top of the world, 30 seconds before stepping off. I couldn’t have done it without my team. Everyone joining my dream. We were on top of the world.” Indeed.



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