Sunday, October 14, 2012

Man jumps from space at 39km altitude - update

A few of us enjoy the sport of parachuting, which is often performed by jumping out of a plane. While this can be considered an extreme sport, it is nothing compared with what Felix Baumgartner just pulled off: the Austrian jumped out of a capsule hanging 39km above the earth, breaking the record of the highest jump ever made, and the record of the highest manned balloon flight. He landed safely in New Mexico after a free fall that lasted almost 4:30 minutes.

The whole event was streamed live on various websites while Baumgartner was performing his record-breaking jump. He was aided by Joseph Kittinger, the 84-year-old who held the previous record, jumping from an altitude of 31,3km. During his flight, he reached a speed of around 1200km/h, which is close to the sound barrier; it is still unclear at this point whether he has actually breached the speed of sound. Originally, Baumgartner was only supposed to reach a height of 36km, but his capsule rose a few kilometres more in altitude before he finally made the jump.

Update: The FAA has confirmed that Baumgartner has in fact broken the sound barrier, reaching Mach 1.2, which translates to over 1300km/h.
While jumping from what is basically space is awesome and makes for great television, Baumgartner's jump was also useful. His attempt aids in research to uncover the maximum height at which astronomers could potentially still jump out of the spacecraft in case of an emergency. Additionally, analysis of his bodily functions will reveal how his body withstood the record-breaking jump.

1 comment: