Joe Kittinger, August 1960.
courtesy National Geographic Society
Felix Baumgartner, October 2012.
courtesy Red Bull Stratos, SOURCE
Watch live Space Jump: comparison of technology from past to present

Posted: Oct 14, 2012 08:34 am EDT
(Newsdesk) “With barely a minute left, I read the gauges on my instrument panel one last time. I disconnect my onboard oxygen supply and begin to breadthe from the bailout bottle in my seat pack. I take a breath and hold it. This is no fantasy. I am real here. I pull myself up and grab the edges of the doorway. I can feel my heart hammering like a machine.
I activate the cameras.
I release the antenna.
Lord take care of me now.
I jump from space.”

These are the words written in the autobiography of Col Joe Kittinger, Come Up and Get Me, as he remembers August 16th, 1960, when he jumped from 102,800 ft (31,300 m).

Col. Joe Kittinger is mentoring Felix Baumgartner through the Red Bull Stratos mission. Below is a comparison of technology from past to present:

Current status at launch venue, Roswell, NM:

Fast forward to October 14th, 2012 with Felix Baumgartner getting ready to attempt to jump from 120,000 feet / 36,500 meter: Team moves forward with launch today. Meteorologist Don Day: "It's going to come down to what it did on Tuesday...those balloon top winds."

Next target launch 6 AM EDT / 12 PM GMT.


A key member of Baumgarten’s team is Joe Kittinger, current record holder for highest-altitude skydive. On August 16th, 1960 he jumped from a height of 102,800 ft (31,300 m). Kittinger (born July 27, 1928) ascended in a helium balloon launched from the back of a truck. He wore a pressurized suit on the way up in an open, unpressurized gondola.

Baumgartner (42) already reached a speed of 536mph/863kph in training. To imagine the speed: compare to average flight speed for a commercial airliner at 500 mph.

As for the altitude, the Kármán line, at 62 miles (100 km) above sea level, is conventionally used as the start of space. But space for man usually starts at 62000 ft (19 km) says test pilot, balloon pioneer and Felix's mentor Joe Kittinger, "above that the blood boils and without a pressure suit you die very quickly."

On July 25th, 2012 Baumgartner jumped from an altitude of 96,640ft / 29,455m at 536mph / 863kph; after 3 minutes and 48 seconds in freefall leading up to a 10 minute and 36 descent.

Related links:

Space Jump watch: Felix Baumgartner’s next attempt.

Winging it! Exweb interview with Joby Ogwyn.

ExWeb record jump current: word from private space suit designer and wing suit glider about Baumgartner attempt.

Felix ready to roll UPDATE: mission abort.

Red Bull Stratos website.

Red Bull Stratos interview with Felix Baumgarten.

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