Holy crap. I’ve never seen anything like it. He jumped out of a space capsule, went into free fall, broke the sound barrier, and landed on his feet. What the–?!
The New York Times has a good article on the jump:
A helium-filled balloon, the largest ever used for a manned flight, lifted the capsule into the air.
Mr. Baumgartner took 2 hours 21 minutes to reach the height, lifting off in an enormous helium balloon that smoothly carried him through the critical first 4,000 feet — called the Dead Zone because it would be impossible to parachute to safety.
From the distance above the New Mexico desert — he hoped to make the highest jump in history and become the first sky diver to break the speed of sound. Before than attempt, Mr. Baumgartner went through a checklist with help from Joe Kittinger, 84, the retired Air Force colonel who in 1960 jumped from 102,800 feet, setting records that remained more than half a century later — and that Mr. Baumgartner was hoping to break.
“Be sure to stay hydrated, Felix,” Mr. Kittinger said earlier as the capsule rose above 22,000 feet. “You’re doing great on that altitude.”
During the second hour of ascent, Mr. Baumgartner complained to Mr. Kittinger that the heating system in his visor was not working properly, and the visor was fogging up. At that point viewers following the live feed of the mission stopped hearing the men’s conversation. The Red Bull Stratos team said that Mr. Kittinger had decided to “enable private conversation.”
The mission requires the largest balloon ever used for a manned flight. Made of 40 acres of ultrathin plastic, it has been described as an inflated dry-cleaning bag that would fill the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Gizmodo live-blogged it — it’s worth checking out to see the process:
Total success. After many delays, Felix did it. He reached the highest altitude ever reached by any man in a balloon, more than 127,000 feet. He then jumped and went faster than any man, breaking Mach 1 (it’s unofficial for now, they have to confirm it).
We are covering the event live.
The first launch was aborted at the very last minute last Tuesday because of a surge in strong winds, faster than 10 knots (11.5mph). The Stratos team remain optimistic about today’s weather.
Here’s the mission video:
Here’s the aborted attempt from five days ago:
The other videos aren’t loading because, oh I don’t know, something like 7 million people are currently trying to watch the same damn videos all at once.
Wow. What an amazing feat. I feel pretty damn lazy for not having even gotten off the damn couch yet today.
There’s a live press conference going on soon, streaming at the Red Bull Stratos website.
[cross-posted at ABLC]