Record-breaking leap from the stratosphere made in Roswell — Hail, Felix!
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Someone from outer space landed in Roswell on Sunday.
This time, it wasn’t a legendary space alien that appeared in the desert of southern New Mexico, but an Austrian named Felix Baumgartner who made a record-breaking jump from 24 miles above the earth’s surface — more than 128,000 feet, which is roughly four times higher than an airliner flies.
“The whole world is watching now,” the 43-year-old Baumgartner said, before giving a salute and jumping from a capsule high above the earth after he was launched from a helium balloon from a pickup truck in Roswell Sunday morning (Oct. 14).
Officials are still verifying the data from the jump but preliminary figures showed Baumgartner going faster than the speed of sound — Mach 1.24. If that number holds up, Baumgartner will become the first human to break the sound barrier without being propelled by a vehicle. Baumgartner was estimated to be falling as fast as 833.9 mph through the stratosphere before deploying a parachute about 5,000 feet from the desert floor where Baumgartner, wearing a pressurized suit and helmet, completed a near-perfect landing that kept him on both of his feet.
After coming to a stop, Baumgartner fell to his knees in relief and joy. The previous highest, farthest, and longest freefall was made by Joe Kittinger, an Air Force pilot who in 1960 jumped from 102,800 feet and suffered an injury to his hand.
Now a retired colonel, Kittinger was at mission control Sunday commmunicating through headsets with Baumgartner as he made his record-breaking leap.
There was a moment of concern just before Baumgartner leaped from the capsule. He was having trouble with his visor, which was fogging up with each breath he took.
“This is very serious, Joe,” he said to Kittinger through his communication system. But he decided to make the jump anyway. The entire adventure took 10 minutes.
GPS data recorded on to a microcard in the Austrian’s chest pack will form the basis for any height and speed claims he intends to lodge with the FAI.
Unofficially, he jumped from 128,097ft (24.2 miles; 39km). He fell for four minutes and 19 seconds reaching a speed of 706mph (1,137km/h). These figures will undoubtedly change slightly once the chest pack information has been properly assessed.
Baumgartner and his team of engineers and scientists say Sunday’s leap was more than just a daredevil stunt.
Again, from the BBC:
The researchers on the Red Bull Stratos project say it has already provided invaluable data for the development of high-performance, high-altitude parachute systems, and that the lessons learned will inform the development of new ideas for emergency evacuation from vehicles, such as spacecraft, passing through the stratosphere.
Nasa and its spacecraft manufacturers have asked to be kept informed.
Jon Clark is the medical director on the team. The former shuttle flight surgeon lost his wife in the Columbia accident in 2003.
He said Baumgartner’s experience could help save the lives of future astronauts who get into trouble.
Nobody would blame Baumgartner if he had a few Red Bulls before making the jump into history.
And maybe Felix will find himself arm in arm with the many illustrations of space aliens you see on signs at storefronts and roadside attractions in Roswell.