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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Felix Baumgartner record skydive

Felix Baumgartner record skydive

Felix Baumgartner record skydive Skydiver to jump from ‘edge of space’, From a helium balloon 120,000 feet in the air, daredevil skydiver Felix Baumgartner  plans to leap from a small capsule into the sky and into the history books . The stunt has reportedly been three years in the making

An Austrian adventurer planning the highest sky dive in history has announced that he will make the record attempt later this year.

Felix Baumgartner will jump from a balloon 36.5km up (23 miles/120,000ft), where any leak in his pressurised suit would cause his blood to vapourise.

He will fall so fast that he becomes the first person to go faster than the speed of sound unaided by a machine.

Many have sought to achieve the feat down the decades but all have failed.

Mr Baumgartner is famous for stunts such as jumping off the Petronas Towers in Malaysia.

In a video released to promote the attempt, Mr Baumgartner said the last test before he goes on the jump had been successful.

“It means I can deliver, I can perform. The equipment will function,” he said.

Mr Baumgartner’s most important piece of equipment will be his suit, which completely encases him to maintain air pressure and provide an oxygen supply.

The suit is similar to those worn by astronauts but it has to be tougher and more mobile than a Nasa space suit.

It will have to withstand extreme pressure: if there is any leak in the suit, Mr Baumgartner’s blood will start to vapourise.

Pressurised test

Engineers tested the suit with Mr Baumgartner inside by recreating the conditions inside a pressurised capsule.

“The suit does its job,” said Mr Baumgartner.

The suit will also have to protect him from the extreme cold – with temperatures dropping to minus 70C – and will also have to withstand the force of a sonic boom.

Group Captain David Gradwell is head of aviation medicine for the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF). He describes the attempt as a remarkable effort, fraught with challenges.

“[Mr Baumgartner] will be falling very fast so he will have to be sure he remains stable so that he doesn’t spin out of control,” he told BBC News.

“He needs to see through the visor of his pressure helmet to see what’s going on in order to operate his parachute properly and see that it has properly deployed.

If the attempt succeeds, it will have beaten a record set in 1960 by Joe Kittinger who leapt out from a balloon at 31km (102,800ft).

Kittinger is part of Baumgartner’s team and believes the new attempt will succeed. But he admits that when it comes time he will be “saying a prayer for the jump”.

A BBC/National Geographic Documentary is also being made about the project.
One man's quest to make a record-breaking leap from near the edge of space is nearing make-or-break time.

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.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."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.

Roughly 35 seconds after he jumps out, Baumgartner will reach supersonic speeds and will continue freefalling until he is about a mile above the ground, when he will deploy his parachute.

The risks involved are multifold. At such lofty altitudes, Baumgartner will need a special pressure suit to insulate him against the thin air, freezing temperatures and low pressures. He must also resist falling into an uncontrolled spin, which could render him unconscious.

The team tried out some of the equipment and procedures Baumgartner plans to use during his jump in a recent test inside a vacuum chamber at Brooks City-Base in Texas.

"This test was enormously important for our self-confidence. The success has given us an additional boost to rise to the challenges that still lie ahead,” Baumgartner said.

The team plans to conduct the first manned test flights at altitude soon.Baumgartner previously became the first person to cross the English Channel in freefall in 2003. He's also made record-breaking parachute jumps from some of the world's tallest structures, including the World Financial Center T101 in Taipei, Taiwan, and the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

He is now attempting to break records set in 1960 by U.S. Air Force Captain Joe Kittinger, who leaped from a balloon at an altitude of about 102,800 feet (31,333 meters).

Since then, others have tried and failed to beat his performance. New Jersey native Nick Piantanida died trying to set a new record in 1966.

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