Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Red Bull-fueled daredevil plans record skydive from edge of space

Austrian extreme skydiver Felix Baumgartner plans to ascend in a helium balloon to about 23 miles up, and then jump. He will break the sound barrier during freefall. 

By Clara MoskowitzSPACE.com / February 7, 2012

In this February 2010 photo Felix Baumgartner experiences a 25,000-foot test jump for Red Bull Stratos. The Austrian skydiver is now planning a 23-mile jump from a balloon in the stratosphere.

Red Bull Stratos/AP

Enlarge

One man's quest to make a record-breaking leap from near the edge of space is nearing make-or-break time.

Skip to next paragraph

Sponsored by energy drink Red Bull, Austrian extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner, 41, plans to skydive from a balloon in the stratosphere at an altitude of 120,000 feet (36,576 meters).

If he can do it, he'll become the first person to break the sound barrier outside of an aircraft. He'll also break a trio of other records that have stood for more than 50 years: Baumgartner's plunge would mark the highest skydive, the highest manned balloon flight and the longest free fall, at about 5 minutes and 30 seconds.

The quest, called Red Bull Stratos, recently got back on track after being stalled by a legal challenge claiming that the idea of the dive was earlier suggested to Red Bull by California promoter Daniel Hogan. That suit has now been settled out of court, and the Red Bull Stratos project is moving forward.

Baumgartner's balloon is set to launch from Roswell, N.M., in August, according to the Daily Mail

Jumping for science

While the dive will certainly offer an adrenaline rush and major bragging rights, Baumgartner says he's jumping for science, too.

The team will study Baumgartner's physical condition and the effects of such a dive on the human body in an effort to better understand how people can survive in space. [Photos: Training for Red Bull's Supersonic Space Jump]

"This mission is all about pioneer work," Baumgartner said in a statement released Tuesday (Feb. 7). "Maybe one day people will look back and say it was Felix Baumgartner and the Red Bull Stratos team that helped to develop the suit that they're wearing in space. We want to do something for posterity."

The Red Bull Stratos team also includes aerospace engineers who are custom-designing cutting-edge technology for the jump.

"We'll be setting new standards for aviation," said Red Bull Stratos medical director Jonathan Clark, a former space shuttle crew surgeon. "Never before has anyone gone supersonic without being in an aircraft. Red Bull Stratos is testing new equipment and developing the procedures for inhabiting such high altitudes as well as enduring such extreme acceleration. The aim is to improve the safety for space professionals as well as potential space tourists."

Risky mission

To make the dive, Baumgartner will ascend higher than four times the height of Mount Everest inside a custom-made pressurized capsule pulled up by a single helium-filled plastic balloon about 600 feet (182 meters) wide.

Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer

 

Doing Good

 

What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

 
 
Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!