It isn’t quite the edge of space (it’s about 50 miles short), but the jump from 120,000 feet was all set to be an extreme Red Bull extravaganza in 2010 until someone brought legal action, saying the idea was theirs first. That issue is settled, and once again preparations are in progress for the jump. Natasha Stenbock, a pilot, TV weather forecaster, and reporter during AOPA Live broadcasts from AOPA Summit, is the official Red Bull blogmaster for the jump. You can see her reports here. The flight will be the highest manned balloon flight, the highest jump, the longest freefall, and the first time anyone has broken the sound barrier with their own body. The record, if achieved, will best Joe Kittenger’s 1957 mark of 102,800 feet (19.5 miles) above the earth. He was also the first to make a solo crossing of the Atlantic in a gas balloon. Shot down while a fighter pilot in Vietnam, he spent nearly a year in a North Vietnamese prison camp. He is an advisor to Felix Baumgartner, the base jumper who will make the attempt. Red Bull always plays these events with great secrecy, never confirming in 2010 that New Mexico would be the site of the attempt, and never confirming the day (it was to be in late summer). The only great unknown is what happens to the human body when it passes through the sound barrier in nothing but a David Clark helmet and pressure suit. There’s one way to find out.
Posts Tagged ‘high altitude parachute jump’
Red Bull officials quietly announced in one of those coded legal statements that a lawsuit charging Red Bull with stealing the idea for a record-setting high-altitude jump has been settled. Was there a payoff? Was the case dropped? Is jumper Felix Baumgartner still trained and ready? No one was talking Saturday, July 2. The significance of the settlement is to clear the way, if Red Bull still wants to do so, for a jump from 120,000 feet by a man in a spacesuit whose body will break the sound barrier on the way down. In a previous coded Red Bull statement, the jump was to be “somewhere” in North America, meaning the Southwest according to media reports. At the time the suspension was announced the Red Bull team was within weeks if not days of the jump from a balloon gondola. Will it now proceed? The answer came in a coded e-mail just now from a Red Bull spokeswoman for this posting. “The next steps will require careful evaluation of the project across all areas and progress will be communicated accordingly.” My guess as to what that means is, “We have to decide if we still want to do this, and if we do, we have to reconstitute the whole project. Don’t bother asking until we tell you something.”