The Man Who Stepped Off the Edge of Space and Broke the Speed of Sound While Free Falling 24 Miles Back to Earth

Yana Bostongirl
SpacesuitPhoto byElia PellegrinionUnsplash

Red Bull Stratos was a high-altitude skydiving project involving Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner which was sponsored by the famous energy drink company Red Bull GmbH. In a marketing stunt that grabbed the world's attention, the company whose brand slogan is "Red Bull gives you wings," literally put that into action by aiming for the highest skydive ever attempted.

On October 12, 2012, Baumgartner rose 24 miles (127,852 feet) in a helium balloon from Roswell International Air Center in New Mexico before free-falling and then parachuting the rest of the way in a hair-raising drop from the stratosphere.

Per reports, the mission required the construction of a massive helium balloon: "To get Baumgartner up to the stratosphere, his team had to construct a helium balloon the size of 33 football pitches – weighing 3,708lbs. It took as many as 20 people to move without damaging the balloon’s material that was 10 times thinner than a sandwich bag."

In addition to that, it took him months of training and help from sports psychologists to get comfortable in the bulky spacesuit that he would be wearing for the duration (8 hours) of his trip. The pressurized, built to withstand temperatures of up to minus 72° Celsius, was distinctly uncomfortable as Baumgartner explains: You have a total lack of mobility. It always feels like you’re breathing through a pillow. You’re completely separated from the outside world. So once the visor is down, all you can hear is yourself breathing.”

Upon landing safely back on earth, it was confirmed that he had broken the sound barrier while hitting a top speed of 844mph during his descent. He is the first human to do so without the aid of any form of engine power.

In addition to breaking the sound barrier, Baumgartner also broke two other records during his epic space jump as this excerpt explains: "Measurements show Baumgartner also broke two other world records. With a final altitude of 38,969 m (127,851 ft; 24 mi), Baumgartner broke the unofficial record for the highest manned balloon flight of 37,640 m (123,491 ft) previously set by Nick Piantanida. He also broke the record for the highest altitude jump, set in 1960 by USAF Colonel Joseph Kittinger, who was Baumgartner's mentor and capsule communicator at mission control."

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