February 5, 2013
Felix Baumgartner’s Wild Ride Was Even Wilder Than First Believed
[ Watch the Video: Red Bull Stratos Jump From 128,000 Feet ]
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
According to the official measurements, Baumgartner reached a maximum speed of 843.6 mph, or Mach 1.25, during his free fall from space on October 14, 2012. This latest number is not only a record for the first man to ever break the sound barrier in free fall, but is actually even faster than what was originally estimated.
After hours of delay on the October Sunday morning, Baumgartner finally got his shot at jumping 127,852 feet above the Earth's surface, breaking a record as the highest untethered altitude outside a vehicle. His ascent to space via the gigantic balloon was the largest balloon ever flown with a human, taking 2 hours and 47 minutes to reach the edge of space. While sitting at such a high altitude, Felix had to deal with temperatures of -95.62 degrees Fahrenheit.
In order to deal with the conditions the stratosphere had to offer, the Red Bull Stratos team built a special suit for the space jumper. Not only did they have to create something that dealt with the low temperatures, but also something that took care of Felix as he descended through a territory in the atmosphere that lacks oxygen, and acts as a vacuum.
The Red Bull daredevil spent about 4 minutes and 20 seconds in free fall, before opening up his parachute about 5,000 feet above sea level, according to the new statistics.
The updated statistics were provided by Brian Utley, official observer for the U.S National Aeronautics Association's contest and records board. Utley determined, based on data from Baumgartner's suit, Felix hit Mach 1 speeds 34 seconds into his jump. This speed is faster than the speed of sound, and his maximum Mach 1.25 means he was free falling 1.25 times the speed of sound.
Baumgartner wrote in the report he never imagined how many people would share his dream to make a supersonic free fall from such heights. About 52 million people have watched the YouTube live stream of the event.
The performance made by Baumgartner could one day help astronauts who need to eject from a spacecraft at high altitudes. For example, a suit like the one Felix tested could potentially have saved astronauts aboard the space shuttle Columbia tragedy ten years ago. The data captured during this event will help with the development of a suit to try and prevent events like that from going so tragically again.
Red Bull said "Official World Record" category data is still under review by the FÃ©dÃ©ration AÃ©ronautique Internationale governing body.