Felix Baumgartner: The Man Behind the Record Breaking Space Jump

On Sunday, Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner jumped from a helium balloon in the stratosphere, approximately 38 kilometres high, as part of the Red Bull Stratos project, landing safely 9 minutes later with three possible world records to his name.

The records broken by the jump were the highest jump, the longest distance of a free fall and the fastest vertical velocity. Brian Utley of the International Air Sports Federation gave some preliminary numbers during a press conference after the event, but to be official records they will need to be certified.

  • Jump: 39044 metres
  • Free Fall: 36529.1 metres (Lasting about 4 minutes and 20 seconds)
  • Velocity: 1342.03 kph or Mach 1.24

Baumgartner narrowly missed a fourth record as well, the longest time spent in free fall. The current record of 4 minutes and 36 seconds was set by Joe Kittinger in 1960.

Tension had been building this week after the jump had to be called off multiple times due to weather conditions. When Sunday finally arrived with minimal wind and clear skies though, Baumgartner wasn’t thinking about the records he would break or the data the project would be gathering, he was simply concerned with making sure he reached the ground alive and in one piece for the sake of his family.

It was a humbling experience for the skydiver who had been jumping since he was 16 though. As he said during his fall: “Sometimes you have to go up really high to understand how small you are.”

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