Felix Baumgarten initiating world record free fall to break the speed of sound. Courtesy Red Bull Stratos website

On a brilliant Sunday morning on Oct. 14, 2012, Felix Baumgartner climbed to 128,100 feet (39,045 meters)* in a helium-filled balloon with the goal of breaking the speed of sound in an audacious free fall jump. Felix Baumgartner took one look at the magnificent view and flung himself from his small balloon suspended capsule breaking the speed of sound as he reached an estimated speed of 833.9 mph* (1,342.8 km/h).

Five years in the planning, Felix’s entire trip back to earth lasted only 9:09 minutes, with 4:22 of that time in freefall (without drogue). Once certified, this feat will make Felix the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall. The mission also provided valuable data for future space exploration, as space experts strive to better understand how the body copes with the extreme conditions near space.

Exactly 65 years after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier flying in an experimental rocket powered airplane, Felix broke two other world records–highest freefall and highest manned balloon flight. The longest freefall record still belongs to Felix’s project mentor, Col. Joe Kittinger.

“It was an incredible up and down (experience) today, just like it’s been with the whole project,” a relieved Baumgartner said. “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.”

For a dramatic video of the Red Bull Stratos launch and successful freefall, please go to:


*The data on the records set by the jump are preliminary pending confirmation from the authorized governing bodies.





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