Austria’s Felix Baumgartner earned his place in the history books on Sunday when he jumped out of his capsule from the stratosphere at the edge of space.
After spending almost two and a half hours flying in his helium filled balloon to an altitude of 39,045 meters (128,100 feet) Baumgartner broke the record for the highest free fall jump, almost 52 years after project mentor Col. Joe Kittinger, set it.
During his free-fall descent Baumgartner reached an estimated speed of 1,342.8 km/h (Mach 1.24). The 43-year-old Austrian skydiving expert also broke the world record for highest manned balloon flight at close to 130,000 feet or almost 40km above the earth.
Whether by design or by chance, Baumgartner still left the record for the longest time for a freefall jump still intact with Kittinger.
Baumgartner landed safely with his parachute in the desert of New Mexico after jumping out of his space capsule. During his 4:20 minute long freefall, Baumgartner quickly hit a maximum of speed of 1,342.8 km/h in the near vacuum of the stratosphere, before being slowed by the thickening air of the lower atmosphere.
At one point during his freefall, Baumgartner appeared to spin rapidly, but he quickly re-gained control and moments later opened his parachute as members of the ground crew cheered and viewers around the world heaved a sigh of relief.
Commenting after his landing, a relieved Baumgartner said
“It was an incredible up and down today, just like it’s been with the whole project,” “First we got off with a beautiful launch and then we had a bit of drama with a power supply issue to my visor. The exit was perfect but then I started spinning slowly. I thought I’d just spin a few times and that would be that, but then I started to speed up. It was really brutal at times. I thought for a few seconds that I’d lose consciousness. I didn’t feel a sonic boom because I was so busy just trying to stabilize myself. We’ll have to wait and see if we really broke the sound barrier. It was really a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.”
Baumgartner and his team spent five years training and preparing for the mission. The effort had endured several weather-related delays before finally lifting off under bright blue skies and calm winds on Sunday morning US time.
Millions of people around the world watched his ascent and jump live on television broadcasts and live stream on the Internet. The millions of viewers on the Youtube channel were double of the previous record.
Bangalore Aviation and its readers congratulate Felix Baumgartner, Joe Kittinger, and the entire Red Bull Stratos crew. This is one of those moments in history when the word AWESOME is appropriate.
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