One of the coolest scenes in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek relaunch saw Kirk, Sulu, and Chief Engineer Olson perform a bit of orbital skydiving in order to reach the drill platform that was attacking Vulcan. It was the sort of insane, over-the-top action that contrasted with Trek‘s traditionally more staid approach, and it’s a perfect example of how Abrams and his screenwriters were trying to shake up the Trek formula. Like the movie or not, nobody who sat through it is likely to forget that sequence any time soon. Now a real-life athlete is looking to show Kirk up by doing his very own spacejump, skydiving out of a balloon 120,000 feet above the Earth’s surface. And it’s all sponsored by Red Bull.
The possibly insane daredevil in question is Australian Felix Baumgartner. He’s got a history of record-setting stunts, such as when he crossed the English channel while in freefall back in 2003. He also has a tendency to jump off very tall things, such as Taiwan’s Taipei 101 skyscraper and Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Cristo Redentor statue, so this next stunt should be right up his alley. Assuming that alley stretched straight upward for 120,000 feet, four times the height of Mount Everest.
According the to the statement released on Red Bull’s website, this spacediving attempt will potentially break four world records: highest skydive, highest manned balloon flight, longest free fall, and becoming the first human to hit supersonic speeds without the assistance of, you know, an actual aircraft. Obviously, nobody has ever claimed that last one, but the first three were toppled in 1960 by Air Force Captain Joe Kittinger, who fell 102,800 feet after leaping out of a balloon.
The jump holds more potential dangers than simply becoming a red smear several counties wide. The project’s technical director, Art Thompson, explains some of the risks:
If he opens up his face mask or the suit, all the gases in your body go out of suspension, so you literally turn into a giant fizzy, oozing fluid from your eyes and mouth, like something out of a horror film… It’s just seconds until death.
Fizzy, oozing fluid…man, I could really go for a Red Bull right about now…
Top image courtesy of Red Bull.