Felix Baumgartner is currently inside the Stratos capsule floating up to the planned 23-mile high jump altitude. He is currently going through precautionary jump checks with Joe Kittinger, who holds the decades old freefall record from 1960.
Last week’s jump on Oct. 9 was previously aborted because of inclement weather, but today’s conditions are favorable and a launch is a go. As I type this, Baumgartner just exceeded 60,000 feet above Earth, which is about half way to the 120,000 mark (23 miles).
If all goes according to plan, Baumgartner will achieve the highest ever freefall record, and also reach super sonic speeds — the first time for a human to break the sound barrier without being assisted by engines. You can watch the event unfold live in the above video, or we’ll be updating live as everything moves along.
While all of us comfortably sit in front of our computers here on Earth, this is Baumgartner’s current view of the horizon. He’s so high up he can actually see the curvature of the Earth, although it’s not quite as dramatic as the wide angle lens would suggests. Still, what a breathtaking view, and he’s not even close to the planned 120,000 feet jump height.
#1: Up at 23 miles, the atmosphere is so thin that they project Baumgartner will break Mach, the speed of sound, in just 30 seconds. Baumgartner should then maintain that speed for up to 20 seconds, until he starts to slow down because of the denser atmosphere.
#2: They’re almost to the 100,000 foot mark, approaching “Float” altitude. Float altitude is when the balloon stops ascending, and Baumgartner will be able to step out onto the capsule’s porch. Additionally, they’re about to surpass Baumgartner’s jump altitude from July, which was 97,000 feet.
#3: Baumgartner is still experiencing issues with his suit, which he first reported when he was going over jump checks with Joe Kittinger. His face visor is apparently not heating properly, making it difficult for him to see, Baumgartner reported. All proper lights are on, but they’re troubleshooting the issue right now. Hopefully it doesn’t affect the overall mission as he approaches 100,000 feet.
#4: The capsule just surpassed Joe Kittinger’s mark of 102,800 feet in 1960. Baumgartner is also approaching the record highest manned balloon flight, which took place in 1961.
#5: Felix Baumgartner has surpassed his first record for altitude for manned balloon flight. History in the making right here.
#6: Despite Baumgartner’s visor issue, the decision has been made to go through with the jump. Additionally, the balloon has surpassed the planned height of 120,000. He now plans to go through the mission check list before he can approach the capsule’s “porch,” and then leap out toward Earth. The capsule is still ascending slowly, but it’ll soon reach its float point.
#7: Felix is about to open the door. This is insane.
#8: The above pictures don’t look like much, but that’s Felix Baumgartner descending to Earth.
#9: They’re still awaiting official verification, but it looks as though Baumgartner exceeded Mach 1, meaning he broke the sound barrier. He’s currently on the ground after jumping from upwards of 127,000 feet. Incredible. After nearly five years of planning, trial and error, the mission, which was delayed because of bad weather, has been a resounding success. Stay tuned for more coverage of this historic day. October 14, 2012 will go down in history.