A disappointed Felix Baumgartner exited his capsule on Oct. 9, 2012 after the flight was aborted due to high winds. Credit: Red Bull Stratos.
Windy weather in New Mexico likely won’t improve for a few days, and so the Red Bull Stratos team is targeting Sunday, October 14 for the next try for Felix Baumgartner to attempt a record-breaking freefall where he could break the sound barrier with his body. Meteoroligsts ruled out flights for today, Wednesday, and Thursday. The winds were the problem on Tuesday when the launch of the helium balloon that was to bring Baumarter to 36.5 km was aborted.
“As we inflated the balloon and got Felix into the capsule at about 11:42 a.m., we experienced a gust of wind that took us above 40 km/h at the peak of the balloon,” said Red Bull Stratos Project Director Art Thompson, adding the gust had dangerously twisted the balloon in a way that could have damaged the delicate polyethylene material. “The integrity of the balloon at that point is really unknown and unacceptable to use for manned flight because we were not sure what would happen as we launch. Our biggest problem was the wind at the 230 meters level.”
Wind speeds cannot exceed 5km/h or there is a chance the envelope could tear when the support team tries to release it. “We knew that we only had a small window today which we finally did not hit,” added Thompson.
The 43-year-old extreme jumper said he was surprised by the decision to abort the flight on Tuesday but optimistic he will still get his chance to break the 52-year-old record set by U.S. Air Force Colonel Joe Kittinger, who jumped from 31.3 km (102,800 ft). Kittinger is working as an adviser for Baumgartmer, and was the CAPCOM during the preparations for Tuesday’s attempt.
“I want this to happen this year,” Baumgartner said. “We’ve made it so far. There’s no turning back. We’re here, we’ve got the helium and we’re good to go. Whether that’s tomorrow or the first day next week, I don’t really care.”
The partially inflated balloon during the Oct. 9 attempt was tossed around by the wind, forcing an abort to the launch. Credit: 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.