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  Red Bull Stratos: Felix Baumgartner's 'spacedive' (Page 2)

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Author Topic:   Red Bull Stratos: Felix Baumgartner's 'spacedive'
GoesTo11
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posted 07-25-2012 09:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I love this. There's something simultaneously futuristic and old-time daredevil about it.

Why jump from 120,000 feet? Because he can, and why not?!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-14-2012 06:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Red Bull Stratos release
New Capsule for Baumgartner with Fall Launch Date

When Felix Baumgartner successfully completed his second test jump from 97,145.7 feet (29,610 meters) landing safely in the New Mexico desert, the team was in a celebratory mood following an intensive week of weather delays. The freefall was higher than planned, making it the second highest jump in history eclipsed only by Joe Kittinger's world record set in 1960.

The 43-year-old Austrian plunged to earth at speeds up to 536.8 miles per hour (864 kilometers per hour) during a 3 minute 48 second freefall. The ascent, freefall and landing went perfectly according to plan. Technicalities from Baumgartner's first test flight were resolved, such as bitterly cold temperatures permeating his protective gloves, affecting dexterity. Baumgartner said on landing: "The more practice you have, the more confidence you have. We now have a good feeling of what to expect and are ready to go."

However, several hours later the Recovery Team reached the capsule and discovered it had sustained damage on landing. After Baumgartner jumped from the capsule, it was detached from the balloon shortly before it would have drifted into U.S. military airspace southwest of Roswell. However, after descending under parachute, it landed on a rocky, uneven surface and was thrown onto its side.

The capsule suffered damage to its outer shell, framework and other key components upon impact. It was taken to Sage Cheshire Aerospace in Lancaster, CA, where it underwent ten days of intensive testing. Red Bull Stratos Technical Project Director Art Thompson confirmed that the inner pressure sphere — which maintains an artificial atmosphere for the pilot — and key electronic support systems were intact. However certain components on the life support systems are being replaced as a precautionary safety measure. The outer shell will be exchanged using materials from a reserve capsule.

The reassembled capsule will undergo a final test at an altitude chamber at Brooks-City Base in San Antonio, TX, which recreates a stratospheric environment here on Earth. Once this test is completed successfully on or around September 24th the craft will be certified safe to fly, with the final mission set for the first two weeks of October. During this period weather conditions remain favorable with calm winds and clear skies essential for the launch of the delicate 55-story high balloon. Don Day, mission meteorologist, confirmed: "Early fall in New Mexico is one of the best times of year to launch stratospheric balloons."

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-06-2012 01:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Red Bull Stratos release
Too Windy! Red Bull Stratos launch will delay to Tuesday

The three-day countdown for the Red Bull Stratos project starts with a one-day delay. The launch for the ultimate flight is postponed from Monday to Tuesday due to a cold front with overly strong winds.

Felix Baumgartner just arrived at the base station of Red Bull Stratos, when he got the news from weather expert Don Day. The launch of the mission to the edge of space will not take place on Monday as scheduled, but most probably on Tuesday.

The reason for the delay is a strong cold front with sharply colder temperatures, low clouds and some drizzle that will be moving through eastern New Mexico over the weekend. While the weather will greatly improve on Monday with clearing skies and warmer temperatures, wind speeds are expected to be above acceptable levels for a safe launch on Monday morning. Wind speeds are forecast to be between 8 to 16 km/h/ 5 to 10 mph from the with winds above the ground at balloon top between 16 to 24 km/h/ 10 to 15 mph, Red Bull Stratos meteorologist Don Day explains. Baumgartner will launch with the largest manned balloon in history: 550 feet/ 168 meters high at the start with a volume of 30 million cubic feet/ 850.000 cubic meters!

“The good news is that we usually have a day or two after this type of cold front moves through where the weather can be favorable for a balloon launch“, Don Day says.

The delay does not influence the preparations on site. In the dress rehearsal in the night from Friday to Saturday, Felix Baumgartner and the team will go through the 7-hour pre-launch procedure exactly as it will occur on Tuesday morning.

prontouk
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posted 10-08-2012 06:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for prontouk   Click Here to Email prontouk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Looking good for jump tomorrow. Redbull Stratos website has certainly come alive now with some great videos looking at behind the scenes.

Best wishes and good luck to Felix for a safe jump.

Still unsure whether I want him to beat Joe Kittinger's record as I love the thought, that risks taken so long ago with so little equipment can still withstand all our impressive advancements.

Joe is still a legend, and so glad he is so involved in this attempt.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-09-2012 08:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Weather conditions (winds aloft) have placed the launch on hold this morning, with a possible liftoff at 11:30 a.m. MDT (12:30 p.m. CDT / 1730 GMT).

Murph
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posted 10-09-2012 10:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Murph   Click Here to Email Murph     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by prontouk:
Still unsure whether I want him to beat Joe Kittinger's record as I love the thought, that risks taken so long ago with so little equipment can still withstand all our impressive advancements.
I think that Joe knows sooner or later his record will be broken so its very cool that he is there, as an honored member of the team, to see it happen, and advise Felix. His place in history is secure.

I have it live on my desktop and hope to see Felix do it successfully, today.

Go Felix, Go!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-09-2012 10:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Neil deGrasse Tyson ‏@neiltyson
I'm told somebody's jumping out of a perfectly good balloon from 23-miles up. The theory of gravity no longer needs to be tested in this way.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-09-2012 12:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wind gusts have forced a scrub (abort) for today's attempt.

On edit: Red Bull Stratos statement

Today, the launch of the Red Bull Stratos capsule had to be stopped at 11:42 a.m. local time in Roswell, New Mexico just before Felix Baumgartner's giant 30 million cubic foot balloon had been fully inflated and made ready for take off. From early morning the team postponed the launch due to strong winds at 700 feet - the balloon's top - waiting for the right weather window to open. The launch was scheduled for 11:40 a.m., the balloon inflation had begun, and then gusty winds picked up and made a launch impossible.

Felix Baumgartner is trying to undertake a stratospheric balloon flight to more than 120.000 feet and attempt a history-making freefall jump where he would become the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall - the first person to do so without the aid of a machine. Felix Baumgartner hopes to help improve our scientific understanding of the stratosphere and how the body copes with the extreme conditions so high above the Earth's surface. The capsule is still intended to be launched to the targeted height attached to a stratospheric balloon: then Felix Baumgartner is to make a freefall back to the earth at supersonic speed before parachuting to the ground.

At this stage the mission team is closely monitoring possible new launch days before a green light is given for another countdown.

Progress will be communicated as it happens.

cspg
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posted 10-10-2012 01:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm told somebody's jumping out of a perfectly good balloon from 23-miles up. The theory of gravity no longer needs to be tested in this way.
An anvil, dynamite, a coyote and a roadrunner have already proven the theory.

Jay Chladek
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posted 10-10-2012 01:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Only from a cartoon physics standpoint.

moorouge
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posted 10-10-2012 02:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Felix Baumgartner is trying to undertake a stratospheric balloon flight to more than 120.000 feet and attempt a history-making freefall jump where he would become the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall - the first person to do so without the aid of a machine.
Perhaps the delay will give the Red Bull Stratos team a chance to correct this. I was under the impression that Joe Kittinger broke the sound barrier in his jump 52 years ago.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-10-2012 07:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kittinger is one of the leaders of the Red Bull Stratos team, so I think they are aware of his history. According to the project's website:
In challenging the current speed record, Felix will attempt to become the first human to break the speed of sound in freefall, attaining Mach 1.0 (about 690 mph). In comparison, a skydiver falling in the standard, belly-down position reaches a top speed of about 120 mph.

(Current record, established Aug. 16, 1960, and held by Col. Joseph Kittinger: 614 mph [equivalent to Mach 0.9])

moorouge
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posted 10-10-2012 07:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Stratocat.com website detailing information about the Excelsior 3 jump -
Captain Kittinger jumped from a height of 102,800 feet, at 7:12 am.

With only the small stabilizing chute deployed, he fell for 4 minutes, 36 seconds.

He experienced temperatures as low as minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit and a maximum speed of 714 miles per hour, exceeding the speed of sound.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-10-2012 07:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kittinger himself maintains his top speed was 614 mph, as he described in LIFE magazine in their Aug. 29, 1960 issue:
Though my stabilization chute opens at 96,000 feet, I accelerate for 6,000 feet more before hitting a peak of 614 miles an hour, nine-tenths the speed of sound at my altitude.
The U.S. Air Force includes the same figure on their fact sheet about the gondola (replica) on display at its museum in Dayton, Ohio:
Capt. Kittinger fell for 4 minutes, 36 seconds. He experienced temperatures as low as minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit and a maximum speed of 614 miles per hour.

moorouge
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posted 10-10-2012 11:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It would seem that Kittinger said different things to different people, as this reference from 'spacejump.co.uk' shows -
During the descent, Kittinger experienced temperatures as low as -94 °F (-70 °C). In the free-fall stage he reached a top speed that is variously estimated as 214 to 250 meters per second; in later interviews, Kittinger put his top speed at 714 mph (319 m/s). As the speed of sound is lower in the upper atmosphere than at ground level, this means he was traveling at transonic, and perhaps supersonic, speeds. Despite this, Kittinger said he had no sensation of speed until he approached the cloud deck.
Who does one believe?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-10-2012 11:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would believe direct quotes, rather than summaries.

And as mentioned, Kittinger himself is central to the Red Bull Stratos project. He may be humble, but I doubt very much he would permit them to get his own history wrong...

Dirk
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posted 10-10-2012 02:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dirk   Click Here to Email Dirk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Next weather window will be Sunday 14 October.
The next weather window for Felix Baumgartner and Red Bull Stratos opens on Sunday Oct 14 - a three day pre-alert as well as daily weather updates will follow and lead into the next launch day.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-14-2012 10:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Felix Baumgartner lifted off Sunday (Oct. 14) in the Stratos capsule, beginning his attempt to break both the sound barrier in freefall and a 52-year-old record for highest-altitude jump — on a date that is already rich in aviation history.
On October 14, 1947, Chuck Yeager became the first man to break the sound barrier flying in an experimental rocket-powered airplane. Baumgartner is trying to fly through the sound barrier without the aid of an aircraft and provide another milestone in aerospace exploration, to make future space travel safer.

Murph
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posted 10-14-2012 10:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Murph   Click Here to Email Murph     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Watching it live right now.

Godspeed Felix, and watch that first step!

Murph
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posted 10-14-2012 01:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Murph   Click Here to Email Murph     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congratulations Felix! Good job Joe!

Kite
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posted 10-14-2012 01:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That was brilliant. Congratulations to the whole team. Thank you collectSPACE and Robert for showing it live.

GoesTo11
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posted 10-14-2012 01:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I still can't get over watching that first step...with virtually no air resistance, Felix stepped off and just disappeared.

Congratulations to Felix and the entire Red Bull Stratos team.

Yeah, it was a stunt. But stunts can be awesome, and that one was.

spaceman1953
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posted 10-14-2012 01:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman1953   Click Here to Email spaceman1953     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congratulations to all!

I could not help but think that Steve Fossett was with Felix every step of the way!

Jurg Bolli
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posted 10-14-2012 01:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jurg Bolli   Click Here to Email Jurg Bolli     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very exciting, congratulations!

Henk Boshuijer
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posted 10-14-2012 01:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Henk Boshuijer   Click Here to Email Henk Boshuijer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very impressive!!! Nice that Joe Kittinger had a role in this event.

Jay Chladek
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posted 10-14-2012 01:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had a chance to watch and video tape it on live TV (yes, I am old fashioned). It was mighty impressive to see. I think this was more than just a mere "stunt" though as a lot of work was involved. Sure, it didn't send anyone into orbit, but Felix has now done something that only one other person has successfully come close to doing before (Kittenger, who still holds the freefall time record since Felix popped his chute a little early probably due to his faceplate fogging up late in the freefall). I am glad he is back on the ground safe.

To Felix, Joe Kittenger and Dr. Jon Clark, as well as every other member of the Red Bull Stratos team, congratulations. These are records that I hope stand for quite awhile.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 10-15-2012 04:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A perfect outcome - Felix breaks the barrier and Joe gets to keep the freefall endurance record. Congratulations to all.

Gilbert
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posted 10-15-2012 05:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gilbert   Click Here to Email Gilbert     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I felt like I was back in the sixties. The buildup and excitement was unbelievable.

p51
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posted 10-15-2012 11:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was at my in-laws (who couldn't have cared less) yesterday so I missed the whole thing. Thank goodness my parents texted me statuses!

I saw this morning on the TV news some video of Baumgartner and Kittinger standing in the lower 'rocket' area of the National Air and Space Museum with the pressure suit on some kind of stand. I have no idea when that was taken as I can't see them having gotten all the way there with it in less than 12 hours, but I would assume this means that eventually the suit will be in display there? If so, it'd be very smart for the sponsor to have their brand on display for generations to come!

Cliff Lentz
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posted 10-15-2012 12:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cliff Lentz   Click Here to Email Cliff Lentz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congrats all around. It was exciting to watch! It didn't seem like two hours. I only hope this doesn't become a RED BULL yearly event!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-15-2012 01:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by p51:
I have no idea when that was taken... but I would assume this means that eventually the suit will be in display there?
The photo was taken in May, during a press opportunity with Baumgartner and Kittinger. While I wouldn't be surprised if the suit was donated to the Smithsonian, I don't think that the photo can be used to reach that conclusion.

YankeeClipper
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posted 10-15-2012 04:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
At the end of Autographica in the UK on Sunday evening, a friend and I were in the main bar of the Hilton Birmingham Metropole looking for live coverage of the jump. Nobody in the bar even seemed aware of the impending history about to be made, so we decided to focus people's attention and got all the TV screens tuned to BBC News 24.

No one who had the privilege of witnessing that jump should have any doubt about the magnitude of what took place. With an Exit Altitude of 128,097ft and Maximum Speed of 833.9mph / Mach 1.24 (provisional), this was record-breaking aerospace history!

As a former skydiver, with some experience of unstable flight attitudes and flat spins, I can also appreciate just how incredibly dangerous this endeavour was. It is sad and offensive to see so many ill-informed people in the print, online, and broadcast media refer to this jump as a "stunt". To call it that is an insult to the entire Red Bull Stratos team and cheapens an incredible team achievement.

Felix Baumgartner dedicated 7 years of preparation for this and enlisted a serious support team including men of the calibre of CapCom Col. Joe Kittinger and Flight Surgeon Dr. Jonathan Clark. Does anyone really think given their backgrounds that Kittinger and Clark would get involved in a mere novelty stunt to sell an energy drink?

Men have got killed in the past pushing this particular flight envelope and Felix was in serious trouble at one point during the jump. Anyone who truly understands aerospace physics/medicine and the risks involved knows what an amazing accomplishment this really was. The fact that Joe's records stood for over 50 years says everything about the challenge involved.

It was very fitting that it occurred on the 65th anniversary of Chuck Yeager's X-1 flight. Felix's supersonic flight is easily the equal of Yeager's on any measure you wish to choose. It was designed with serious scientific objectives to the fore and deserves proper recognition as an amazing flight in aerospace exploration!

GoesTo11
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posted 10-17-2012 03:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Grantland.com is primarily a sports and entertainment news site, but they've posted a very good piece today on Felix's jump.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-17-2012 04:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by YankeeClipper:
It is sad and offensive to see so many ill-informed people in the print, online, and broadcast media refer to this jump as a "stunt".
But it was presented and promoted by Red Bull as a stunt. There may very well be scientific or academic knowledge to be gained from the jump, but that wasn't the driving force behind the endeavor or the way in which it was shown to the public.

I think space history blogger Amy Shira Teitel summarized it well in her piece, RedBull's Stratos Stunt:

RedBull Stratos was an incredible opportunity to teach a huge audience about the past and future exploration of high altitudes and space. Having a scientist or historian narrating the jump would have brought a level of prestige to the event. It could have been less of a publicity stunt and more of an event designed to return scientific data that just happened to be sponsored by a corporation.

I can’t help but think this Stratos jump could have been more powerful and interesting had we learned the context behind the mission. In the end, I have to wonder how much we’re gaining if the public is excited by space exploration but doesn’t understand why it matters or the technology behind it.

mjanovec
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posted 10-17-2012 04:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Red Bull Stratos web site dances about the issue somewhat, saying:
Felix Baumgartner plans to ascend to 120,000 feet in a stratospheric balloon and make a freefall jump rushing toward earth at supersonic speeds before parachuting to the ground. His attempt to dare atmospheric limits holds the potential to provide valuable medical and scientific research data for future pioneers.
They mention the potential to gather medical or scientific data, but don't outline any specific research they were planning to do with the mission. Indeed, the lack of any concerted effort to break Kittinger's record the past 50 years likely demonstrates that little was left to be gained by breaking his record.

I don't personally have anything against trying to break records or push the boundaries of human flight, even if done for the shear adventure of doing so. By and large, however, I will agree this effort was more "stunt" than science.

YankeeClipper
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posted 10-17-2012 05:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Felix Baumgartner's Jump From The Stratosphere

Patrick Chappatte's cartoon A Small Step For Me ... A Giant Leap For Corporate Sponsorship has a couple of suited execs revelling in the outcome and payoff.

The reality is that this jump was a huge calculated risk by Red Bull that could easily have had a catastrophic outcome. Think about it. Not so much Red Bull gives you wiiings! as Red Bull gets you killed violently in front of your girlfriend, mom, family, media, and global TV/internet audience of millions!

I'll leave it to psychologists to argue whether Felix's death might have resulted in some perverse increase in sales i.e. this is a killer drink for dangerous people and only cool people willing to risk death drink it. It's difficult to say if a fatal outcome would have damaged the brand, but advertising your brand ambassador's gruesome death live on Sunday seems like a very risky move even for Red Bull. I mean they're a long way removed from the family-friendly stunt frolics of Red Bull Flugtag with this aren't they?

Personally, I think Red Bull execs were breathing a quiet sigh of relief afterward - potentially their necks were somewhat on the line too. More than one career could have got killed that day.

mach3valkyrie
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posted 10-17-2012 06:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mach3valkyrie   Click Here to Email mach3valkyrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When Joe Kittinger jumped from 102,800 ft. in 1960, man hadn't yet been in space. The knowledge to be gained for the impending space program and high altitude flight research was essential. Check out the December 1960 National Geographic for that story.

For whatever the reasons it was done, the record breaking jump from more than 128,000 ft. took a giant set of marbles. Congratulations to all involved!

YankeeClipper
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posted 10-17-2012 06:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GoesTo11:
Grantland.com is primarily a sports and entertainment news site, but they've posted a very good piece today on Felix's jump.
Brian Phillips was mostly on the money in his article but I disagree with aspects of his conclusion.

First off, in skydiving terms a stunt is where you go out on a hop-and-pop from 2 grand (2,000ft) off a helo into a football stadium dressed as Santa Claus. Gary Connery's jump dressed as the Queen of England to open the London Olympics 2012 is a case-in-point. BJ Worth's 007 James Bond movie work is another. They are stunts.

Once you're talking about multi-jumpship big way formation dives forming above 16,000ft on supplemental pre-breathed oxygen or High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) dives, you've gone beyond stunt territory and anyone who is a skydiver knows that implicitly. That's why HALO is largely the preserve of the military. When you're talking about being at altitudes above Concorde, U-2 and SR-71, at speeds that they are capable of, then you left the stunt division a long time ago in the basement.

A leading British skydiver George Pilkington said to me in 1999 "Skydiving is a perfectly safe sport so long as you remember you can get killed in a heartbeat". He wasn't exaggerating having survived being knocked unconscious in a mid-air collision and being saved by Bruno Brokken. All skydivers learn from others' accident reports - I've seen the accounts of limbs torn off mid-air from a fatal Golden Knights tracking collision down to fatal slow-speed canopy collisions a mere 50-100ft off the deck. Novice jumpers 'bouncing' on their very first jump to possibly the greatest skydiver of the 20th Century, skysurfing and wing-suit pioneer Patrick de Gayardon 'going in' after 15,000+ jumps.

Part of this subject's problem is misperception because of terminology like 'daredevil' and YouTube coverage. People are confusing some of Felix's previous BASE jumps such as his 1999 jump off the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio with the Stratos jump. Rio was low-level into a very restricted landing zone and actually quite dangerous even in BASE terms, but basically that was a stunt. In fact around that time I seem to recall him being not too popular in the BASE community because he was 'burning' high profile BASE sites for others. I was given good advice on BASE jumping i.e. "Get your BASE number if you want, but then get out of it because all you are going to get is killed".

The Red Bull Stratos jump was NOT a stunt. If that was the case then Joe Kittinger's work for the USAF was just a cheap stunt too. In the recent past skydivers Cheryl Stearns and Michel Fournier were also prepared to risk their lives on such a cheap gimmick. Clowns - the lot of them!

Brian Phillips finished by saying that "128,000 feet is: a record that exists for no reason" - that this was about "the sense of purposeless glee". So NASA, USAF and companies like David Clark and Martin-Baker couldn't care less about the outcome? The manner of Laurel Clark's death wasn't a factor in Dr. Jon Clark agreeing to be this mission's flight surgeon? That Felix was just risking his life "for no reason"?

Call it what you want, but supersonic extreme high-altitude skydiving is no stunt.
It can and will kill you in a heartbeat.

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 28718
From: Houston, TX
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posted 10-17-2012 07:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Evel Knievel could have easily been killed "in a heartbeat" on many of his jumps, and all were stunts. David Blaine could have died during some of his endurance record attempts, and they too were stunts.

Suggesting that risking one's life somehow disqualifies an activity as a stunt is just not true.

A stunt, by definition, is "an action displaying spectacular skill and daring." Baumgartner's jump most certainly qualifies as a stunt.

Baumgartner sought from the start to break Kittinger's altitude. The difference between the latter and the earlier, is that Kittinger wasn't seeking to set a world record — that he set one was secondary to his objectives. Had Baumgartner jumped just under Kittinger's record height, the Stratos project would have failed at its stated purpose.

Stunts are not inherently bad. In some ways, those who continue to summit Mount Everest, especially those trying to set firsts (e.g. first without supplemental oxygen, or first with a prosthetic limb) are taking part in stunts, too. They can be admired but their effort is not advancing humanity's ability to climb high mountains.

GoesTo11
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From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 10-17-2012 09:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I fear this discussion is being bogged down in semantics.

When I referred earlier to Felix' feat as being a "stunt," I was being anything but dismissive. The reason I enjoyed the Grantland article was that it emphasized why I and so many others around the world were transfixed by the jump: it returned a sense of genuine wonder and suspense to a true feat of daring, and reminded me, at least, that so many of aviation's advances in its infancy were the result of "stunts."

That said, Project Excelsior was explicitly experimental: It was intended to probe the then largely unknown survivability challenges faced by pilots forced to abandon their aircraft at extreme high altitude. It was a clinical and necessary research project.

In contrast, the fact that in the half-century since COL Kittinger's jump no serious attempt has been made to challenge it until now suggests that there was little significant knowledge held to be gained in doing so...or at least none worth the attendant risk.

As other commenters have pointed out, Red Bull have been rather slippery about how, exactly, to characterize the whole endeavor. I believe the following: That it was, in fact, a "stunt" in the sense that it served as a feat of derring-do primarily in the service of brand promotion, and that whatever practical knowledge was gained in its execution was secondary to such. I also believe that it was an accomplishment of exacting and exhaustive technical preparation, exemplary teamwork, virtuoso execution, and most of all extraordinary physical courage on the part of one individual.

I see no inherent contradiction or tension between either view. If anyone else does, then at this point I'd just propose that we might agree to disagree on our respective definitions of the word "stunt."


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