Skydiver Fearless Felix jumps from 18 miles up

Jul 25, 2012 by MARCIA DUNN
In this Thursday, March 15, 2012 photo provided by Red Bull Stratos, Felix Baumgartner prepares to jump during the first manned test flight for Red Bull Stratos over Roswell, N.M. On Wednesday, July 25, 2012, the 43-year-old Austrian plunged to Earth from an altitude of more than 18 miles landing safely near Roswell, N.M. It's was second stratospheric leap for "Fearless Felix." He's aiming for a record-breaking jump from 125,000 feet, or 23 miles, in another month. He hopes to go supersonic, breaking the speed of sound with just his body. (AP Photo/Red Bull Stratos, Jay Nemeth)

Skydiver "Fearless Felix" Baumgartner has done it again.

On Wednesday, Baumgartner took another stratospheric leap, this time from an altitude of more than 18 miles (29 kilometers) — an estimated 96,640 feet (29,456 meters), nearly three times higher than cruising jetliners. He landed safely near Roswell, New Mexico. His top speed was an estimated 536 mph (862.5 kph), said Brian Utley, an official observer on site.

It's the second test jump for the Austrian-born Baumgartner from such extreme heights and a personal best. He's aiming for a record-breaking jump from 125,000 feet (38,100 meters), or 23 miles (37 kilometers), in another month. He hopes to go supersonic then, breaking the speed of sound with just his body.

"It has always been a dream of mine," Baumgartner said in a statement following Wednesday's feat. "Only one more step to go."

Longtime record-holder Joe Kittinger jumped from 102,800 feet (31,333 meters) — 19.5 miles (31.38 kilometers) — in 1960 for the Air Force. Kittinger monitored Wednesday's dry run from a mini Mission Control in Roswell.

As he did in March, the 43-year-old ascended alone in an enclosed capsule lifted by a giant helium balloon that took off from Roswell. He wore a full-pressure suit equipped with parachutes and an oxygen supply — there's virtually no atmosphere that far up.

It took about 1½ hours to reach his target altitude. He was in free fall for an estimated three minutes and 48 seconds before opening his parachutes.

"It felt completely different at 90,000 feet," Baumgartner noted. "There is no control when you exit the capsule. There is no way to get stable."

In March, Baumgartner jumped from 71,581 feet (21,818 meters), more than 13 miles (20.9 kilometers), saluting before stepping from the capsule. Bad weather earlier this week delayed the second test jump until Wednesday.

NASA is paying close attention to this Red Bull-funded project dubbed Stratos, short for stratosphere. The space agency wants to learn all it can about potential escape systems for future rocketships.

Baumgartner won't come close to space, even on the ultimate jump that's planned for late August or early September. Space officially begins at 100 kilometers, or 62 miles — more than 328,000 feet.

Baumgartner, a former military parachutist and extreme athlete, has jumped more than 2,500 times from planes and helicopters, as well as from skyscrapers and landmarks, including the 101-story Taipei 101 in Taiwan.

Kittinger, who turns 84 on Friday, was an Air Force captain when he made his historic jump for what was called Project Excelsior. He reached 614 mph (988 kph) on that dive, equivalent to Mach 0.9, just shy of the sound barrier.

Baumgartner expects to accelerate to 690 mph (1,110 kph) on his final plunge.

Explore further: New commercial rocket descent data may help NASA with future Mars landings

More information:
Red Bull Stratos: www.redbullstratos.com/
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force: tinyurl.com/2dsnn6

4.9 /5 (15 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Capsule and skydiver ready for record-setting freefall

Mar 08, 2012

Part science experiment, part publicity stunt, part life-long ambition, the Red Bull Stratos mission will feature skydiver Felix Baumgartner attempting to break the speed of sound with his body in a record-setting ...

Supersonic Freefall

Apr 06, 2010

The sound barrier was first broken by an aircraft in 1947, but this year a man will attempt to break the sound barrier with his body alone. His freefall jump from the edge of space will not only break records, ...

Cassini captures new images of icy moon Rhea

Mar 12, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- These raw, unprocessed images of Saturn's second largest moon, Rhea, were taken on March 10, 2012, by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. This was a relatively distant flyby with a close-approach distance ...

Recommended for you

Hot explosions on the cool sun

3 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The Sun is more spirited than previously thought. Apart from the solar eruptions, huge bursts of particles and radiation from the outer atmosphere of our star, also the cooler layer right below ...

Europe secures new generation of weather satellites

3 hours ago

Contracts were signed today to build three pairs of MetOp Second Generation satellites, ensuring the continuity of essential information for global weather forecasting and climate monitoring for decades to ...

Comet Siding Spring whizzes past Mars (Update)

16 hours ago

A comet the size of a small mountain and about as solid as a pile of talcum powder whizzed past Mars on Sunday, dazzling space enthusiasts with the once-in-a-million-years encounter.

User comments : 17

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Mike_Massen
Jul 25, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Eventide
1.4 / 5 (9) Jul 25, 2012
I was excited to read about this until I found out he was wearing all kinds of protective gear for this. That's cheating.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.8 / 5 (16) Jul 25, 2012
2021; Fearless Felix successfully jumps from near-earth orbit Bigelow inflatable hotel using inflatable heat shield. http://en.wikiped...erospace http://phys.org/n...eld.html
Telekinetic
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 25, 2012
"Baumgartner expects to accelerate to 690 mph (1,110 kph) on his final plunge."

I wonder what his final words will be.
Eric_B
4.3 / 5 (6) Jul 25, 2012
"I wonder what his final words will be."

Red Bull, give me wings. I forgot the parachute!
dtxx
1 / 5 (2) Jul 26, 2012
I'm guessing he will make it just fine, and have a few stories to tell. What is the figure of merit on a human body travelling at transonic speeds? I doubt anyone knows, but I posit the question as it is extremely relevant to this guy's future undertakings.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 26, 2012
"It felt completely different at 90,000 feet," Baumgartner noted. "There is no control when you exit the capsule. There is no way to get stable."

Interesting. As a layman I would have expected such a dive to be "just another dive, just with protective gear". But the further up you go (and especially for the escape variants NASA is looking at) the more you need to include some form of very rudimntary propulsion/stabilization system.

Gyros?

Usage of part of the oxygen supply with nozzles?

A long line with a weight on the end?

It doesn't have to be a big system but something seems to be needed.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.8 / 5 (17) Jul 26, 2012
rudimntary propulsion/stabilization system
As usual, engineers have already thought of this
http://en.wikiped...ing_Unit
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Jul 26, 2012
I know about that one - but that is WAY overdesigned for the use in reentry. The MMU is intended to get from A to B in orbit.
Getting from A to B (where B is the ground) isn't the problem here.

I was more referring to something that doesn't have to move you anywhere - just provide roll, pitch and yaw controls.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (15) Jul 26, 2012
I know about that one - but that is WAY overdesigned for the use in reentry. The MMU is intended to get from A to B in orbit.
Getting from A to B (where B is the ground) isn't the problem here.

I was more referring to something that doesn't have to move you anywhere - just provide roll, pitch and yaw controls.
You would need nozzles spaced far enough apart to exert sufficient moment and finite control in all 3 axes. The MMU is actually a shell which fits over the suits backpack. The skydiver would have a similar pressure suit and air supply.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Jul 27, 2012
You would need nozzles spaced far enough apart to exert sufficient moment and finite control in all 3 axes

That would be one way. But I'm thinking that this would be a pretty complex system and for a rescue/emergency escape system something simple would be preferrable (not something you have to prime, strap on, get into).
Though to have minute channels woven into the fabric of a suit should be possible. The suits already have such channels for cooling purposes.

The F35 seems to do attitude control well with just one movable 'nozzle'. So there's another way that would minimize size of the system (at the cost of increasing complexity)

The whole thing doesn't even need to work for a long time - you just need to stabilize once and that's it. As soon as you hit the atmosphere you can stabilize yourself.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (16) Jul 27, 2012
The F35 seems to do attitude control well with just one movable 'nozzle'. So there's another way that would minimize size of the system (at the cost of increasing complexity)
Rotating nozzles on a free-floating object with a constantly-shifting center of gravity would be extremely complex. Fixed nozzles at the end of extendable booms is a lot simpler.
The whole thing doesn't even need to work for a long time - you just need to stabilize once and that's it. As soon as you hit the atmosphere you can stabilize yourself.
If you watch the rover simulation, as it enters the atmosphere it's attitude jets are constantly firing. A complex object like a human would provide constantly-shifting air resistance, and would require constant attitude adjustment.

This is why non-aerodynamically-shaped objects tend to tumble. They are unstable.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2012
The problem with proper attitude is that if you fall down from very high up, you pick up a lot of speed and potentially tear yourself apart, break a limb or burn yourself when entering thicker atmosphere. If you're already tumbling wildly, it's going to be difficult to recover.

A long line with a weight on the end?


Think about why that wouldn't work in a freefall.
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2012
Think about why that wouldn't work in a freefall.

It wouldn't stop a spin, but you could slow it down significantly (and it would be extremely low tech). Think ballerinas.

. A complex object like a human would provide constantly-shifting air resistance, and would require constant attitude adjustment.

As soon a you have sufficient atmosphere to justify attitude adjustments via jets you can do it via changing the shape of your body (the normal way skydivers do it). The jets on an escape suit would only be there to help while you don't have enough air resistance.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2012
It wouldn't stop a spin, but you could slow it down significantly (and it would be extremely low tech). Think ballerinas.


All I'm thinking is that you'd get wrapped in the tether as you tumble down from the sky, because the weight would be in freefall with you. Unless the tether is actually a rigid boom, the weight will not do anything.
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Jul 30, 2012
A big slinky is the solution. A jumper inside a custom made slinky.
The physics of slinkies in freefall are predestinated to solved high altitude freefalls.

To leave the slinky you simply let go - like cliff springers entering water feet first - their arms stretched above their heads or press firmly to their bodies. :)

Actually the slinky will compress automatically (return to a non-extented state) when the air resistance becomes great enough.
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Jul 30, 2012
All I'm thinking is that you'd get wrapped in the tether

Why? Spin yourself around (e.g. on a playground contraption) and slowly unravel a tether with a weight at the end. You won't get wrapped up - and you will slow down (because of the conservation of angular momentum).

Momentum exchange tether:
http://en.wikiped...e_tether

Gemini 11 had one on board.
Tausch
1 / 5 (1) Aug 01, 2012
http://phys.org/n...web.html

Hold yourself to the top coil of the slinky.
This slinky in the extented state is long enough with custom tailor tension and mass to prevent tumble.

Your welcome. Cut check in 7 digit amount. Thanks