*update* – It now is being reported that the first day an attempt is looking to be possible is Sunday 10/14. High winds have prevented the attempt as the ballon needs practically zero winds speeds at different elevations to make the attempt safe.
It seems like a long time ago I began to talk about the amazing planned attempt by Felix Baumgartner to jump, literally, from the edge of space – but it looks like it will actually happen as soon as Tuesday.
Red Bull Stratos has had an on/off, stop/start storyline over the last several years, but if all goes to plan and mother nature allows, it should finally all fall into place (no pun intended) from the high skies of New Mexico. Originally planned to happen today (Monday), but high winds delayed the start, as soon as Tuesday Felix will enter a custom made capsule with a massive helium ballon attached that will take him to a planned height of 120,000 feet (or 23 miles) to the very edge of where space officially starts.
There he will leave the capsule with only a parachute attached, but encased in a pressurized space suit as his only means of safety from the elements surrounding him. At that height any damage or tear in the suit would certainly kill him, and by kill him, I mean possibly boil his blood, rip his body into an uncountable number of bits and general mayhem.
This will not only best the 1960 jump of Air Force Capt. Joseph W. Kittinger Jr. from 102,800 feet, and will include the first time a human has broken the sound barrier without being inside a capsule or craft of some kind ( about 700 mph). Breaking the sound barrier poses an unknown in the form of shock waves and how that effects his suit, or damages it, is an unknown – although scientists says that the thin air at such heights are an advantage.
In addition to the temps, pressure and shock waves is the simple problem of controlling his decent. Because of the thin air, the smallest error in positioning could put Felix into an uncontrolled spin that could knock him out, prevent a safe deployment of his parachute or maybe if fast enough cause his good to rush to his brain causing bleeding or clotting.
The Red Bull team has preventive measures and solutions for all of these worries, but the attempt is about as hairy and ballsy as it gets.
- Fearless Felix supersonic free-fall postponed: Red Bull Stratos (vancouversun.com)
- Daring Skydiver to Attempt Record-Breaking Supersonic Freefall Monday (space.com)
- Record-Breaking Supersonic Skydive Attempt Delayed to Tuesday (livescience.com)
- Supersonic Skydive Attempt Delayed to Tuesday (news.discovery.com)