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What It's Like to Plummet to Earth at 834 Miles Per Hour
October 15, 2013 6:29 PM   Subscribe

What's it like to plummet to Earth when your starting point is 24 miles above Earth's surface? What's it like to free-fall at 833.9 mph — 140 mph faster than the speed of sound? New footage shows Felix Baumgartner's record-breaking freefall from the stuntman's point of view. via The Atlantic
posted by jim in austin (39 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
What's it like to plummet to Earth when your starting point is 24 miles above Earth's surface?


With all honesty I can say that I have never ever wanted to know that.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:39 PM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


It actually looks kind of boring.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:41 PM on October 15, 2013


Is - is that the curve of the earth, or the lens? Both?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:44 PM on October 15, 2013


I would imagine there is a fairly high "pucker factor" involved, especially with that first step...
posted by jim in austin at 6:45 PM on October 15, 2013


Yeah, he needs to be using a surfboard next time; or at least a bike or something. A bike on a surfboard; hell yeah!
posted by buzzman at 6:56 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is - is that the curve of the earth, or the lens? Both?

I noticed that in the leg camera, when it was pointed toward the sky, the horizon was concave instead of convex. Which would suggest the lens is very wide angle.
posted by RobotHero at 6:59 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


God damn! That first couple of minutes is nerve wracking.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:02 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would imagine that beginning to corkscrew at faster than the speed of sound might be a cause for concern...
posted by jim in austin at 7:05 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think after about the 4 minute mark, my acrophobia red-lined so hard it crashed something, and the rest of the video I just looked at it like a cat tries to make sense of a TV screen like "This, this thing, it is incorrect. Does not belong in sky, no no no no..."
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:11 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I saw the title I thought "Oh! New default thread!"
posted by MoonOrb at 7:24 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was interested in the incredibly swift acceleration to 800+ mph and then the equally swift deceleration to 200 and change.
posted by sweet mister at 7:28 PM on October 15, 2013


I always thought madamjujujive's incredibly succinct comment in the original thread about this summed up my feelings exactly.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:33 PM on October 15, 2013


I'm not particularly brave or anything, but that looks like a ton of fun.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:43 PM on October 15, 2013


I'm pretty sure at that height you can actually see the curvature of the Earth. I actually came in to say how cool I thought it was to watch the horizon go from pretty well arched to mostly straight.
posted by nevercalm at 7:44 PM on October 15, 2013


There is plenty of time to enjoy a nice sandwich on the way down.

Mmm, sandwiches.
posted by planetesimal at 7:45 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Too bad they didn't have a dopamine meter, with tick marks at candy, sex, rollercoaster, jazz and poutine.
posted by kickback at 8:28 PM on October 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


Wow. If those medical sensors are accurate, he was severely tachycardic the entire time. I would have expected an increase due to stress and anxiety, but to see him hovering at ~170 BPM the whole time was surprising.
posted by lholladay at 8:47 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was watching it I remember seeing him spin and thought the worst. I had to look away and almost started crying. I don't know why but I was very nervous. But watching it now, it appears that he was intentionally tucking his arms in to try to go as fast as possible. As soon as it appeared he was slowing down at 1:15, boom - he gains control immediately.

What a fuckin dude.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:47 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


At 24 miles up, the horizon is about 6.25 degrees below the horizontal plane.

This is roughly what you'd see if you were standing in the middle of a 100-foot diameter round table - the edge of the table would be about 6.25 degrees below horizontal.

When you're up that high, the horizon is about 440 miles away.
posted by Hatashran at 8:49 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


170 bpm is not that crazy. I hit that all the time when running or rowing.
posted by sweet mister at 9:03 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


170 bpm is not that crazy. I hit that all the time when running or rowing.

Wait, first of all he hits 190bpm, and second of all, for all intents and purposes this guy is sitting on a couch, admittedly going 500mph. Maybe it's because I just saw After Earth (kind of liked it, haters), but I smell fear.
posted by phaedon at 9:06 PM on October 15, 2013


Can't.
Help.
Myself.

Not that that wasn't freaking awesome and not that I didn't watch the whole thing live as it happened with fear and envy and eyes agog. But the speed of sound is contingent on the medium through which the waves propagate. The speed of sound is not absolute.

Science isn't dirty but I feel like I'm coated in mud now.
posted by vapidave at 9:20 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Coward
posted by Flashman at 9:22 PM on October 15, 2013


I really liked the data overlay. It's interesting how you can see him go from zero-G weightlessness to almost 1 G as he starts hitting denser air, almost like a wall, at 70-80 thousand feet. Coming into this denser air the speedometer shows him doing the equivalent in 0 to 60 in 2 seconds (actually 800 down to 740 mph, but you get the idea).

Now I'm sitting here thinking about the feasibility of parachuting out of an orbiting spacecraft. I wonder how much of the orbital velocity you'd have to lose to avoid burning up on the re-entry. It looks like if you could lose enough of it, you'd come in like this guy. Touchdown and go get a beer.
posted by crapmatic at 9:29 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


You lose orbital velocity by coming down slowly, looping round several times so you burn off bit by bit. You have to be careful not to bounce off the atmosphere like a skipping stone though.

I'm still not sure you can decelerate from 27,000 mph without some, um, discomfort though.
posted by sweet mister at 9:37 PM on October 15, 2013


wow!
posted by Middlemarch at 9:50 PM on October 15, 2013


Maybe someone can develop a light weight single use heat shield that deploys like an umbrella underneath the jumper.
posted by planetesimal at 10:18 PM on October 15, 2013


buzzman: "Yeah, he needs to be using a surfboard next time"

Like the ending to Dark Star.
posted by radwolf76 at 10:50 PM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I would have expected an increase due to stress and anxiety, but to see him hovering at ~170 BPM the whole time was surprising.

It was actually closer to 160 for most of the fall, jumping to 180 only when he was spinning. The surprising bit was his pulse jumping to and staying around 180 for the whole time his parachute was open. Can anyone with skydiving experience comment on that?
posted by daniel_charms at 11:05 PM on October 15, 2013


> Maybe someone can develop a light weight single use heat shield that deploys like an umbrella underneath the jumper.

Time for someone to update the "Man Out Of Space Easiest" (M.O.O.S.E.) system developed by GE in the 1960s. But what you're actually looking for is a sport version of the Paracone.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:09 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The paracone concept was written into the novel The Mote in God's Eye, with a memorable escape sequence for three junior officers (they thought they were going to use a "lifeboat" to move from one spacecraft to another, but aliens had modified the lifeboats into something very like paracones, which instead followed a preprogrammed path to the alien planet).
posted by dhartung at 11:45 PM on October 15, 2013


Wow. If those medical sensors are accurate, he was severely tachycardic the entire time.

Duh, this was sponsored by Red Bull, what did you expect ?
posted by briac at 11:59 PM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


The paracone concept was written into the novel The Mote in God's Eye, with a memorable escape sequence for three junior officers

Hah, I remember that-- they were just realizing that their craft had been modified and they couldn't control it, when one said something like "If you were the Watchmakers, how would you change this?" and someone replied "I'd make it better."

Paracones, both a realistic version and a sport version, appear in the book "Lunar Dance" by Robert Sapp. It's a self-published book, and could use some polish, but it has, at its core, a decent technodrama about a privately funded trip to the moon using, in part, some decommissioned NASA hardware. It has lots of very thinly disguised references to current private spaceflight players and companies, such as the protagonists' company "Roadrunner Rockets," founded and funded by a video game producer. Looks like the author wasn't in the industry, but he's an enthusiast, and that comes through in the details.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:25 AM on October 16, 2013


you forgot the holyfuckingshit tag
posted by modernnomad at 2:28 AM on October 16, 2013


I would imagine that beginning to corkscrew at faster than the speed of sound might be a cause for concern...
Not if you want to drill through to the other side - just cross your ankles.
posted by rongorongo at 3:03 AM on October 16, 2013


Fast-forward: Ka-chunk step step step step. Acrophobia: a fear of acres.
posted by Namlit at 3:53 AM on October 16, 2013


Hey - free dummy!
posted by jetsetsc at 8:00 AM on October 16, 2013


two things....

1) @ 4:30, when his chute deploys: "Rock and Roll!" he says.

2) He makes a stand up landing on the smoke, from a 24-mile jump.

Out-fucking-standing!

Anyhow, he still had half a mile to go before he reached sea level. I guess he did it in the truck.
posted by mule98J at 8:56 AM on October 16, 2013


Wait, first of all he hits 190bpm, and second of all, for all intents and purposes this guy is sitting on a couch, admittedly going 500mph.

So would that count as aerobic exercise?
posted by goethean at 9:49 AM on October 16, 2013


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