Sunday, 14 October 2012

Baumgartner's About to Jump...

Live Video.

 I'm watching the live broadcast from Felix Baumgartners ascent toward the edge of space. 
He's going the (moderately) slow way, at least compared to a rocket, his helium balloon is rising at almost a thousand feet per minute.
94,460 feet. 
18 miles up.
102,000 feet now, the point at which Joe Kittinger jumped to make the highest ever parachute jump.  Ascent slowing...........

He's going to jump.
128,000 feet
"popping the canopy....."

This is Felix Baumgartner's latest attempt to go beyond the furthest barriers set to man. 
Sadly submerged in corporate sponsor branding. You'd be forgiven for thinking this is Red-Bull's idea, as you hear "Red Bull/Stratos being name-checked every few moments. But it's not. It's Baumgartner's mission. 
Red Bull/Stratos are just the corporate sponsors, they're the moneybags, the facilitators, not the drivers. Just a necessary evil. 

The highest any man has been in a balloon, is likely to be exceeded. 
No sustained flight powered airplane is capable of this altitude. Oh yes, the X-15 rocketplane, launched from beneath the wing of a bomber in the stratosphere, has achieved a higher peak, 325,000ft.
 Alexandr Fedotov, a Russian pilot holds the world altitude record, set on August 31, 1977, when his MiG E-266M reached 123,523 feet. That's still the limit for any plane that took off and landed itself.
And that again was an artificial lunge into the void, not something that could be sustained. Just an upward blip. 

The highest sustained altitude flight for any plane is 85,000ft, held by the Lockheed SR71 Blackbird. He's currently 35,000 feet above that. Amazing. Incredible.