13-Mile High Skydive Paves Way For Record Setting Jump This Summer

Felix Baumgartner moments before jumping from an altitude of just over 71,000 feet.  The jump was a dress rehearsal for a planned record breaking jump from 120,000 feet this summer.  Photo Credit: Jay Nemeth/Red Bull Content Pool

Felix Baumgartner moments before jumping from an altitude of just over 71,000 feet. The jump was a dress rehearsal for a planned record breaking dive from 120,000 feet this summer. Photo Credit: Jay Nemeth/Red Bull Content Pool

Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner plans on making a historic record setting jump from the stratosphere this summer, and last Thursday (March 15) he skydived from an altitude of just over 71,000 feet – setting the stage for his planned jump from 10 miles higher in the coming months.

Baumgartner jumped from a custom made pressurized capsule, which was carried aloft in the skies over Roswell, NM by a 100-foot helium balloon.  The dive puts the man known as “Fearless Felix” in an exclusive club, as he is only the third person in history to have ever jumped from an altitude higher than 70,000 feet.  The dive also topped his personal best – his highest jump previously was from an altitude of 30,000 feet.

Video Credit: Red Bull Stratos

Thursday’s jump was a practice run, a dress rehearsal for his planned record setting dive from 120,000 feet planned for this summer, one in which he expects to become the first person to ever free fall through the atmosphere at supersonic speeds.  The current record is held by retired Air Force Colonel Joe Kittenger, who jumped from an altitude of 102,800 feet in 1960 as part of Project Excelsior – a program carried out by the U.S. Air Force to design a parachute system which would allow safe descent for flight crews who ejected from their aircraft at high altitudes.  Kittinger also set records for the longest parachute drogue fall and still holds the record for the fastest human free fall.

Joe Kittinger making his record setting jump in 1960, a record which has remained untouched for over 50 years.  Felix Baumgartner plans on breaking that record this summer.  Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force

Joe Kittinger making his record setting jump in 1960, a record which has remained untouched for over 50 years. Felix Baumgartner plans on breaking that record this summer. Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force

Baumgartner’s dive lasted 8 minutes, reaching a top speed of nearly 365 mph during free fall, flying in his pressurized flight suit through the coldest part of the atmosphere where temperatures as low as -94 Fahrenheit are typical.  “The view is amazing, way better than I thought,” said Baumgartner after his jump.  After free-falling for close to 4 minutes, the 42 year old austrian skydiver opened his parachutes at an altitude of 7,800 feet and landed safely 30 miles outside of Roswell, NM.

“I wanted to open the parachute after descending for a while but I noticed that I was still at an altitude of 50,000 feet,” said Baumgartner.

Red Bull Stratos is sponsoring Baumgartner is his quest to make history.

Felix Baumgartner and his life support engineer Mike Todd all smiles after Baumgartner landed 30 miles outside of Roswell, NM, having spent 8 minutes falling through the sky from an altitude of 71,500 feet.  Photo Credit: Jörg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

Felix Baumgartner and his life support engineer Mike Todd all smiles after Baumgartner landed 30 miles outside of Roswell, NM, having spent 8 minutes falling through the sky from an altitude of 71,500 feet. Photo Credit: Jörg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

The daredevil is no stranger to the world of skydiving and base-jumping – he has jumped 2,500 times from various aircraft as well as from some of the highest landmarks, natural and man-made, in the world.  He has even dived into the Earth, having jumped over 600 feet into a pitch black cave in Croatia.

Another practice run is planned in the coming months, a jump from 90,000 feet before the ultimate record setting jump from 120,000 feet takes place sometime between July and October 2012.

For more information on the Red Bull Stratos project sponsoring Baumgartner’s quest for the record books please visit www.redbullstratos.com

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