Caption: Pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria lands in the desert during the second manned test flight for Red Bull Stratos in Roswell, New Mexico, USA on July 25, 2012. Credit: Red Bull Stratos
Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner took a practice jump today, (July 25, 2012) to help him prepare for his leap from the edge of space later this year where he hopes to not only break the sound barrier with his body, but also break the record for the longest freefall. In preparation for his Red Bull Stratos mission, Baumgartner rode his specially-made pressurized capsule via a helium balloon and jumped from an altitude of over 29,455 meters (96,640 feet), falling for 3 minutes, 48 seconds, reaching speeds of 862 km/h (536 mph).
According to Red Bull Stratos team, this is the final milestone before his attempt of jumping from 36,500 meters (120,000 feet), to break the current jump record held by Joe Kittinger a retired Air Force officer – and Baumgartner’s current adviser and mentor — who jumped from 31,500 m (31.5 km, 19.5 miles) in 1960.
Caption: Technical Project Director Art Thompson and Capcom 1 USAF Col Joe Kittinger of the United States welcome Pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria during the second manned test flight for Red Bull Stratos in Roswell, New Mexico, USA on July 25, 2012. Credit: Red Bull Stratos.
Today’s test launch was twice delayed due to bad weather, but the Red Bull team said they were never discouraged, well aware that even Space Shuttle launches sometimes faced several days of postponement.
“It was a rough couple of days and an exhausting endeavor,” Baumgartner said after the successful landing. “I am now really excited. It has always been a dream of mine. Only one more step to go,”
“It’s hard not to get emotional about today,” said technical project director Art Thompson. “We are just so glad to have Felix back on the ground after a long week with significant weather challenges. The crew did a great job.”
Caption: Pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria celebrates after he lands at the desert during the second manned test flight for Red Bull Stratos. Credit: Red Bull Stratos.
The balloon took about 90 minutes to reach the desired altitude, and after the freefall, he floated down on his parachute for about eight minutes. Baumgartner landed in the New Mexico desert, just about 15 minutes by helicopter from his launch site at Roswell International Air Center.
Today’s successful test, with a balloon over four times as large as the one that carried Baumgartner for the first test flight in March, provided more insights for the progress of the project and also new data for the benefit of aerospace research, the team said.
Red Bull Stratos did not provide an official date for the record-setting attempt, but only said it is now subject to favorable weather conditions and critical post-jump assessments of the capsule and equipment.
Source: Red Bull Stratos