Skydiver, pilot and BASEjumper Felix Baumgartner will attempt to break the sound barrier in freefall on Tuesday, October 9, 2012, jumping from a capsule lifted by a giant balloon to 36,576 meters (120,000 feet). This is something that Baumgartner has been preparing for over the past five years, but his team says the time period he now finds himself — the last few hours before takeoff — might be the most challenging of all.
“I’ll probably feel the most anxious when I’m trying to sleep in the hours before I start getting ready –when everything’s quiet and it’s just me and my thoughts,” 43-year old Baumgartner admitted. “Once my day begins, I’ll have a lot to do and my mind will have something to focus on.”
The target time for the launch of the balloon and capsule is 12:00 GMT/ 8 am EDT/5 am PDT on October 9. To watch it live, tune into http://youtube.com/redbull or http://redbullstratos.com/
Here’s how Baumgarter is spending the final 24 hours before the jump from the edge of space:
Launch Minus 24 Hours: Baumgartner started the day with a light cardio-based workout, mostly to “relax and loosen up,” according to Red Bull High Performance Director Andy Walshe.
Pilot Felix Baumgartner and girlfriend Nicole Oetl pose for a photograph during the preparations for the flight of the Red Bull Stratos mission in Roswell, New Mexico. Credit: Red Bull Stratos.
Minus 18h30: Rest and relaxation. His family has arrived at the New Mexico launch site and he will spend time with them, as well as reading messages of support that have been pouring in from around the world and drawing in his sketchbook – a pastime that he says helps to clear his mind. In the back of his mind he is always reviewing his checklists for the mission, his team says.
Minus 13h30: Baumgartner will join members of the crew for a light early dinner, but the food on his plate will be unique. For at least 24 hours before his jump, he must stick to a low-fiber diet prescribed by the mission’s medical team. It is vital for him to eat only foods that will clear his system quickly, without leaving residue that could create gas: a condition that can cause problems in the low-pressure of the stratosphere because it can expand in the body and cause serious discomfort.
Minus 12h00: Baumgartner will attempt to get to sleep early – before the Sun has even set. But whether he sleeps or tosses and turns all night — like Charles Lindbergh did before his historic flight across the Atlantic in 1920 – only Baumgarter knows.
Minus 4h30: “When I need to be ready, I’m always ready,” Baumgartner often says. And while he will try to sleep as long as possible, he’ll need to rise four to five hours before dawn to be ready for the intense day ahead.
Minus 3h30: Baumgartner will arrive at the launch site, accompanied by his team, which includes Col. Joe Kittinger, whose freefall record Baumgarter is trying to break. Kittinger, a retired Air Force officer, jumped from 31,500 meters (31.5 km, 19.5 miles, 102,000 ft) in 1960. Now 83, Kittinger has been assisting Baumgartner in preparations for the jump.
Minus 4h00: Baumgartner will head to the runway where, as is habitual for the experienced pilot before
every flight, he will conduct a meticulous inspection of the capsule.
Minus 2h30: Baumgartner will undergo a final medical check and a compact, state-of-the-art physiological monitoring system will be strapped to his chest to be worn under his pressure suit throughout the mission.
Minus 2h00: Life Support Engineer Mike Todd will dress Baumgartner in his suit, a painstaking process, and Baumgartnerwill ‘pre-breathe’ oxygen for two hours to eliminate nitrogen from his bloodstream, which could expand dangerously at altitude.
Minus 0h30: Baumgartner will be strapped into his capsule chair to conduct final instrument checks as
directed by Mission Control. Then Capsule Engineer Jon Wells will seal the clear acrylic door. For several more long minutes of anticipation, Baumgartner will await countdown and, finally, launch.
Here’s a video that shows what the ascent and jump might be like:
Source: Red Bull Stratos
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.