Don't jump! At least not without Red Bull wings.
May 23, 2010 5:07 AM   Subscribe

Forget Kittinger's freefall from space at 102,800 feet, now Felix Baumgartner is preparing for a 120,000-foot supersonic fall. Of course Red Bull is involved as the project is named Red Bull stratos.

previously on Mefi all kinds of jumps, really - most of them Red Bull sponsored.
posted by dabitch (36 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You have to admire Red Bull's admirable focus when it comes to their promotional spending.
posted by atrazine at 5:15 AM on May 23, 2010

Ok, that's cool, but can a human being survive that jump....RIDING A NUCLEAR WARHEAD?

Your move Red Bull.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:21 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Falling? But I thought Red Bull gives you wings.
posted by bwg at 5:21 AM on May 23, 2010

Falling? But I thought Red Bull gives you wings.

It's all in the framing of the post. It's not a 120,000-foot fall, it's flying straight down from 120,000 feet.
posted by inigo2 at 5:52 AM on May 23, 2010

Every time a stuntman falls a red bull gets its wings.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:23 AM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

dropped from the edge of space
posted by kliuless at 6:32 AM on May 23, 2010

With all due respect, I'm not going to forget Kittinger. I remember when he did it, and it was and remains a big deal.

This is yet another marker on the US's progression to being of, by, and for corporations.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:59 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just for science, let's now plot trajectory and speed based on, say, not including a parachute. Tell him it's an Iron Man II promotion... now wind will be a factor... tide should be on the low side... Oh! What's his hat size?

Gentlemen, we're running out of options and the world is watching. We've got to plug that leak somehow.
posted by hal9k at 7:08 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Gee, it'll be kinda awkward for Red Bull if the chute malfunctions, huh?

Red Bull, it gives you wings ...except when it's really important!
posted by leotrotsky at 7:24 AM on May 23, 2010

That is some serious testicular fortitude right there.

Now if only they could drop something from the edge of space into the BP gushing oil leak and plug it up, we'd be in business.
posted by misha at 8:01 AM on May 23, 2010

He's not the only guy trying to do this. Exactly one week ago I was at the airport in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, where former French paratrooper Michel Fournier was breathing pure oxygen in a special capsule while his helium balloon inflated... then suddenly a parachute deployed and it all ground to a halt. His window closed last week and it looks like he'll be back in August to try it again.

His last attempt here was two years ago when his balloon suddenly detached from the capsule and took off.... on live network television. I wasn't one of the reporters there that time... but there weren't nearly as many of us reporters last week (though I had a nice chat with the senior science editor of Popular Mechanics.) One of the things that interests me most about all this is the skepticism... people who just chortle every time there's a technical malfunction... others who are convinced if he ever does make the jump he will not survive it.
posted by evilcolonel at 8:02 AM on May 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

posted by homunculus at 8:36 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hmm, it just occured to me I've yet to see any of the Red Bull Air Races yet this year. Those are fun.
posted by homunculus at 8:38 AM on May 23, 2010

Kittinger previously.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:10 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

To beat this record, the next daredevil will have to throw themselves from orbit.

(It's the only way to be sure.)
posted by griphus at 9:20 AM on May 23, 2010

Michel Fournier is also going to try it (again) this summer?

Then this almost looks like a race! Who will be first? Who will be the highest?

Here's a PopSci link.

This is the same guy who crossed the English Channel with an unpowered wing strapped to his back.
posted by eye of newt at 9:28 AM on May 23, 2010

A earlier, longer PopSci article about Felix Baumgartner's medical director Jonathan Clark's work in this area. His wife, Laurel Clark, perished in the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster.
posted by eye of newt at 9:34 AM on May 23, 2010

Previously: Orbital Skydiving.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:45 AM on May 23, 2010

(Pepsi Red?)
posted by bicyclefish at 9:55 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Within the first 30 seconds, he expects to be falling faster than the speed of sound, which at that altitude is around 690 miles per hour.

OK, but by then you've only been falling for about 15,000 ft and still have a ways to go before you hit the bulk of the earth's atmosphere. I'd be curious to see a profile of just how fast you'd be going before atmospheric friction starts slowing you down. Can the body really take a supersonic shock wave coming off it?
posted by crapmatic at 10:05 AM on May 23, 2010

Last Sunday after Fournier's failed attempt I arrived back at the office to find a voice mail from someone telling us we didn't know what we were talking about and should get our facts straight, then proceeding to explain that a falling person would hit terminal velocity well before approaching the sound barrier. I'm no physicist, but 30 seconds of research on the interwebs told me Kittinger didn't break the speed of sound but was dropping well faster than this caller's definition of terminal velocity.

Where's Julius Sumner Miller when you need him?
posted by evilcolonel at 10:21 AM on May 23, 2010

In the all kinds of jumps Metafilter link, DU mentions Kittinger and Felix Baumgartner. I think it is cool that Kittinger is still around, at 81, advising Baumgartner on problems he might run into during the freefall.
posted by eye of newt at 10:56 AM on May 23, 2010

That freefall from space at 102,800 feet YouTube video is really fantastic. I found myself wondering (as they assisted him into the balloon) if he was worried he might be too bulky to get himself out of the basket when it was time.

Also - does anyone know what the music is?
posted by anastasiav at 11:33 AM on May 23, 2010

From eye of newt's link:

Kittinger hopes to help Baumgartner avoid some of the problems he had on his jump — namely, the fact that his body went into a spin that reached 120 revolutions per minute as he plummeted more than 60,000 feet. Kittinger blacked out and awoke only when his reserve parachute went off, saving his life. These immense risks are one reason this new jump is being privately financed. As the NY Times points out, Air Force and NASA officials have become “understandably reluctant” to explain potential mishaps to Congress.
posted by anastasiav at 11:35 AM on May 23, 2010

How does an Austrian company founded by a Thai and an Australian sponsoring another Australian's parachute jump or a French guy in Canada's competing effortsay anything about the U.S.?
posted by Tashtego at 11:56 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

As much as I could feel my own stomach jumping up into my throat as I watched that Kittinger footage, I have to say, the few glimpses showing the bright blue edge of the earth up against the pitch black beyond had me kind of wishing I could do that just so I could see that shit myself. And though I guess Kittinger passed out for the first half, for the rest of that drop, imagining him falling to the earth all alone, only in his head with only the rushing ground to meet him, I don't know, that kind of thing is attractive to me. Like I wonder what he thought about (besides I guess "OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT DID I JUST FUCKING BLACK OUT? OH SHIT THAT WAS FUCKING CLOSE..."). I mean, you must feel so fucking incredibly small in the grand scheme of things. I've always been drawn towards the sort of isolation that can make you question your existence.
posted by kkokkodalk at 12:17 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Interview with Felix Baumgartner and Joseph Kittinger.
posted by eye of newt at 12:52 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also - does anyone know what the music is?

UNKLE -- In A State
posted by jason's_planet at 1:18 PM on May 23, 2010

I found another article on space diving. This one mentions Cheryl Stearn's failed jump in 2003 (she's looking for another sponsor), and Australian Rodd Millner's non-existent jump. (Which is a good thing. It sounds like he would get the least likely to survive award).

Can you tell I'm excited by this? This is a record that's held for nearly 50 years and two serious attempts are going to be made this summer. This is Charles Lindbergh territory.
posted by eye of newt at 2:35 PM on May 23, 2010

I just found this juicy tidbit (and more) on the page Kittingers high jump
What happened on one of the earlier balloon ascents illustrates the nature of Kittinger's commitment. The plan was to ascend above 90,000ft in a pressurized capsule the size of a telephone booth. As the inflation of the once-only balloon started Kittinger accidently opened his 4-pin round main, which was the only means of escape if the balloon tore open during the ascent, which was a commmon event. Rather than scratch the mission, which would have killed the project, Kittinger successfully repacked a 28ft round while standing in a area the size of a telephone booth and wearing a spacesuit. He did this without the ground crew finding out, with no prior packing experience and without a pullup cord.
Balls of steel.
posted by dabitch at 3:18 PM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

This page says that it was a man named McClure who repacked his parachute, twice. (Search for "repack" to find the paragraph. Maybe they had similar problems or maybe a site is confused. Has anyone been wrong on the internet before?
posted by Science! at 4:36 PM on May 23, 2010

But still, balls of steel.
posted by Science! at 4:36 PM on May 23, 2010

Yeah... you gotta love this stuff. Super epic. I dig it that the record has stood for so long in this age of high technology and whatnot.
posted by ph00dz at 6:08 PM on May 23, 2010

Obligatory link to the extremely beautiful music video utilizing footage from Kittinger's jump, Dayvan Cowboy by Boards of Canada:
posted by interim_descriptor at 7:27 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm not seeing this end well.
posted by RavinDave at 10:14 PM on May 23, 2010

Science! , hmmm, wonder who really was the repack-balls-of-steel man. I was trying to find out who it was that died trying to break the record (or rather when, and if it was more than one) since everyone mentions people died trying but they never say when this was. Seems the military jumps, insane and limit-pushing as they were, went well.
posted by dabitch at 12:54 AM on May 24, 2010

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