A space suited figure landed in Roswell, New Mexico this morning, but it wasn’t an alien. Today Felix Baumgartner completed his second test jump from a specially designed capsule dangling three times higher than cruising altitude for jets. At 18 miles it’s not quite a record setter, but this marks the last big test before Baumgartner attempts skydiving in a pressurized suit from 23 miles up next month, breaking not only the world record, but the sound barrier as well.
After years of testing and design, the Red Bull Stratos Project is finally about to reach its completion. The Project was first reported back in 2010 when it was announced that the notorious base jumper/daredevil Felix Baumgartner would be sponsored by Red Bull in an attempt to set an unbreakable altitude and speed record for the world’s highest skydive. The size of that feat has necessitated serious training and the design of a new pressurized suit and a balloon capsule capable of bringing Baumgartner to the proper altitude. This second test jump, which had been postponed a day due to weather, took Baumgartner just one mile under the altitude of current record holder Joe Kittinger who set the record for the highest skydive back in 1960 for the USAF’s Project Excelsior. Excelsior was a series of three tests designed to research high altitude bailouts, the first of which nearly killed Kittinger as he lost consciousness during an out-of-control spin, but was luckily saved by his parachute opening automatically.
According to The Washington Post, Baumgartner’s assent to 96,640 ft in the balloon took about an hour and a half. Once he jumped, Baumgartner reached speeds of up to 536 mph on his close to 4 minute free fall before opening his chute. The final jump would see him accelerate to 690 mph breaking the sound barrier with just his body. Let’s hope all goes well on the final attempt or otherwise Red Bull might have to rethink that whole “It gives you wings” slogan.
Here’s a new CG promo for Project Stratos…