Posted: Oct 15, 2012 10:12 am EDT (Newsdesk) “Start the cameras and our guardian angel will take care of you,” were the words of Felix Baumgartner’s mentor Col. Joe Kittinger before he stepped away from his capsule falling into the stratosphere. Kittinger was the only person who spoke with Felix during the ascent.
The exit was perfect, said Felix after the jump, but then he started spinning during the freefall. ”I thought I’d just spin a few times and that would be that, 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.”
After flying to an altitude of 39,045 meters (128,100 feet) in a helium-filled balloon, Felix Baumgartner completed a record breaking jump from the edge of space; exactly 65 years after Chuck Yeager became the first person to travel faster than sound. He was flying in an experimental rocket powered airplane.
Felix reached an estimated speed of 833.9 mph / 1,342.8 km/h (Mach 1.24). This preliminary figure would make him the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall, (The data on the records set by the jump are preliminary pending confirmation from the authorized governing bodies.)
Below, Felix’s jump October 14th, 2012 (Red Bull Stratos):
Headcam (courtesy Live Leak):
Items on the checklist that Felix had to complete (courtesy Red Bull Stratos)
4 Hours to Launch: Felix Baumgartner conducts a meticulous inspection of the capsule.
2 Hours 30 Minutes to Launch: Felix gets a final medical check, and a compact, state-of-the-art physiological monitoring system is strapped to his chest worn under his pressure suit throughout the mission.
2 Hours to Launch: Life Support Engineer Mike Todd assists Felix with his pressure suit, a painstaking process. Felix pre-breathes oxygen for two hours to eliminate nitrogen from his bloodstream, which could expand dangerously at altitude. He awaits the announcement that the balloon is inflated and can move to the capsule.
30 Minutes to Launch: Felix is strapped into his capsule chair to conduct final instrument checks as directed by Mission Control. Then Capsule Engineer Jon Wells seals the clear acrylic door. Baumgartner will await countdown and, finally, launch.
Felix’s ascent will mark the first time in history that a nearly 30 million cubic foot / 850.000 cubic meter balloon of this size has ever been launched with a human on board.
2,000 feet / 600 meters: If the ascent failed in the first 2,000 feet / 600 meters, there would not be enough time for the balloon’s parachute to deploy or for Felix to get out of the capsule and deploy his own, and the risk remains relatively high to 4,000 feet / 1.200 meters.
4,000 feet / 1.200 meters: Initial ascent appears to be successful. From this point on, should a problem occur, full parachute deployment is possible.
25,000 feet / 7.620 meters: Without oxygen, Felix would have only an estimated 2.5 minutes of useful consciousness.
25,000 to 45,000 feet / 7.620 to 13.716 meters: This region is home to the jet stream, the mission’s biggest risk for wind shear.
35,000 feet / 10.668 meters: A typical cruising altitude for passenger jets.
36,000 feet / 10.973 meters: Average height where the tropopause begins (boundary between the troposphere and stratosphere, which varies according to latitude and seasonal weather).
45,000 feet / 13.716 meters: Without oxygen, Felix would have only an estimated 15 seconds of useful consciousness.
63,000 feet / 19.200 meters: The general area of the so-called “Armstrong Line,” above which bodily fluids turn to vapor (“boil” at body temperature) without pressurization.
71,615 feet / 21.828 meters: Altitude of Felix’s first test jump in March 2012, during which he reached a speed of 364.69 mph / 586.92 km/h.
85,000 feet / 25.908 meters: The typical operating ceiling altitude of the highest-flying aircraft, such as the SR-71.
97,145 feet / 29.610 meters: Altitude of Felix’s second test jump in July 2012, during which he reached a speed of 536.8 mph / 864 km/h.
100,000 feet / 30.480 meters: Above this altitude, the balloon’s ascent rate will likely decrease, and its volume can be expected to double for each 10,000 feet / 3.048 meters in altitude.
102,800 feet / 31.333 meters: Joe Kittinger’s record for highest freefall jump (Project Excelsior, 1960).
113,740 feet, / 34.668 meters: Altitude record for highest manned balloon flight (Victor Prather and Malcolm Ross, Project Strato-Lab, 1961).
120,000 feet / 36.576 meters: Minimum target “float” altitude. When balloon levels off, Felix goes through his final checklist and exits the capsule.
120,000 feet / 36.576 meters (approximate)
115,000 feet / 35.050 meters: From Felix’s jump until he reaches this altitude, the air is almost a vacuum; so thin that he will have no resistance to work against – he won’t be able to control his position. Once he descends below 115,000 feet / 35.050 meters, he will gradually begin to be able to use his body to control his position and will attempt to achieve a streamlined, head-down “Delta” position before breaking the speed of sound.
107,000–102,000 feet / 32.613–31.090 meters: If Felix goes supersonic, it will likely be in this altitude range.
100,000–95,000 feet / 30.480–28.956 meters: Air density begins to slow Felix.
90,000 feet / 27.432 meters: By this point Felix should have decelerated below supersonic speeds.
68,000–36,000 feet / 20.726–10.973 meters: Region of coldest temperatures Felix will experience. Temperatures of -70° F. / -56° C. or lower are possible.
5,000 feet / 1.524 meters: Most probable altitude for Felix to deploy his main parachute. With his freefall likely having lasted more than 5 and a half minutes, this sets a new record for longest freefall time (breaking Joe Kittinger’s Excelsior III freefall mark of 4 minutes, 36 seconds).
2,000 feet / 600 meters: If Felix’s descent were to exceed 115 feet / 35 meters per second at approximately 2,000 feet / 600 meters, the CYPRES automatic activation device would deploy his reserve (emergency) parachute.
Landing: Felix is met by the medical team for initial evaluation, as well as by an official observer who takes possession of a data card from Felix’s chest pack to begin the record verification process. Felix returns to the launch site via helicopter.