How often are we encouraged to take that daring leap we’ve anticipated for so long? Well, 43-year-old Felix Baumgartner has been looking forward to his specific leap for quite some time, and today marks his monumental record of freefalling from the highest altitude of 130,000 ft, equivalent to 24 miles high.
“As the key player in the mission, known as Red Bull Stratos, Baumgartner has been planning the jump since 2005,” The Huffington Post said.
65 years ago, Chuck Yeager became the first man to break the sound barrier inside of a plane. Baumgartner, in his custom-made space suit, is predicted to become the first person to break the sound barrier outside of any sort of aircraft.
The crew attempted to launch the trip five days ago, but the launch was delayed due to the high wind gusts. “When Art told me we were aborting the mission, I thought it was a joke,” Baumgartner said in a statement. “I thought, ‘There is no way; the conditions were right.’ I couldn't tell what was happening with the balloon because I was in the capsule.”
The balloon used today was the largest balloon ever to be used to haul a man aloft. The size is specific for its traveling at such high altitudes. “It’s quite a feat to get this back-up balloon up and running,” broadcasting legend Robert Hager narrated the entire Sunday mission. “There would have been a delay of weeks to find another balloon.”
The parachute attached to the capsule ensured that film and evidence of the record would be preserved following the free-fall release of Baumgartner. The live video streamed from 130 websites across the Internet, as well as the Discovery Channel. The trip featured Hager’s play-by-play narration as well as close-ups of Baumgartner from the capsule.
The mission slowly trumped Baumgartner’s previous records from both March and July, as the balloon expanded and the altitudes increased. At 1:17 p.m., Baumgartner surpassed Joe Kittinger’s record for freefalling from the highest altitude.
“Item 28: slide seat forward…” The mission finally prepared for the last moments prior to the freefall. As Baumgartner released his seatbelt, sliding to the edge of the capsule, his freefall began for nearly four minutes. Loud cheers consumed the mission control room as Baumgartner released his parachute, receiving the anticipated world record for the highest jump mark.
“In 65 years, it goes to show there are still challenges to overcome, and you should never lose sight of trying to achieve them,” Baumgartner said. “I would be proud to be a part of that group of explorers.”
This is not only a win for Baumgartner, “but also a big win for science,” Hager said.