You know that thing you did that one time that you thought was pretty cool? Well, if you ever meet Austrian adventurer Felix Baumgartner in a bar, don’t bother bragging about anything — he’s got you beat. Baumgartner just completed one of the highest skydives in history from a height of over 18 miles.
Baumgartner is seeking to break the world record for a “space jump” with his Red Bull Stratos mission. This jump was just a test run for the next jump, expected to take place at an altitude of 125,000 feet, or nearly 24 miles up. That will far surpass the current record of 102,800 feet set by U.S. Air Force Captain Joe Kittinger in 1960. Although Kittinger completed his jump with minimal technology, and was nearly killed in a previous test jump.
In the 18 mile jump, Baumgartner lifted off in a helium balloon from Roswell, NM early in the morning. After roughly 90 minutes, he had reached the predetermined altitude. With a pressurized suit to protect him from the thin atmosphere at that height, Baumgartner jumped out of his perfectly good balloon and dropped toward the Earth. He fell for almost four minutes before deploying his chutes, and reached a top speed of 536 MPH. If he can complete the next jump, it is possible he will break the sound barrier.
Baumgartner plans to try for the record-breaking jump in the next month or so. Until then, the team will be analyzing the data and preparing the balloon for another flight. At least the man has goals.
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