Posts Tagged ‘Red Bull Stratos’

Chivalry at 97,000 feet

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

As preparation for the Red Bull Stratos record-breaking parachute jump from a balloon at 120,000 feet in early October, Felix Baumgartner jumped in early August from 97, 145 feet. Why not just go on up to Joe Kittinger’s record of 102,800 feet set on August 16, 1960? Baumgartner wanted to make sure he broke the record on the last flight. If he had gone above 102,800 feet, then the final flight would have broken Baumgartner’s record, not Kittinger’s. He didn’t want to push Kittinger, the mission controller of the Red Bull Stratos project, out of the picture so early. By the way, that Aug. 9 test flight was to have been to 90,000 feet, not 97,000. Does that mean the final flight will be actually above 120,000 feet? You can bet the rent money on it. Baumgartner finally took Kittinger’s advice on the type of gloves to use after his hands became numb on an earlier practice flight, and had no problems. You can also bet the young pup will listen to the wisdom of 84-year-old Kittinger for the October flight. Orlando officials have rennovated Col. Joe Kittinger Park near Orlando Executive Airport. Kittinger was born in Tampa.

Red Bull capsule after hard landing

The flight was delayed to October because the capsule fell on its side in rocky terrain after the Aug. 9 flight, damaging its exterior and systems. The inner pressure vessel survived, but rebuilding seemed like a good idea. (Red Bull photo)

Red Bull leap from space is on again

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

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.