For centuries, people have dreamed of gliding like birds. The sport of skydiving grew in part out of this desire. More than half a century ago during Project Manhigh and Project Excelsior, humanity pushed this to an extreme with a series of jumps from the edge of space topping out at 31 kilometers altitude by Joe Kittinger in 1960. His record remained unchallenged until now.
Sponsored by Red Bull Stratos, Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner made his historic stratospheric jump on October 14, 2012. Protected only his pressure suit made by the David Clark Company, he shattered several world records, while battling claustrophobia.
- Top Speed: 1,342.8 km/hr / 833.9 mi/hr (Mach 1.24 supersonic!)
- Jump altitude: 39.05 kilometers / 24.26 miles
- Vertical distance of freefall: 36.53 kilometers / 22.70 miles
- Total time freefall: 4 minutes 22 seconds
- Total jump to landing: 9 minutes 9 seconds
Check out the inspiring video highlights below and tune into the National Geographic Channel on November 11 to watch Space Dive:
"I know the whole world is watching, and I wish the whole world could see what I see. Sometimes you have to go up really high to understand how small you really are." --Felix Baumgartner"
Moving to the second video treat of the week, do yourself a big favor and watch the ISS startrails footage assembled by astrophotographer Christopher Malin. Similar to the photos taken by Astronaut Don Petit on the ISS, this video uses post-processing and stacking of images to mimic a long time-lapse exposure. Malin says he was inspired by Felix Baumgartner's stratosphere jump, so he grabbed a Red Bull and cranked out this mesmerizing video in only 10 hours. Enjoy this one at full screen resolution!
In other news, a big congratulations goes out to SpaceX for their historical first commercial cargo mission to the International Space Station! My son and I watched the launch live along with millions of other internet viewers, and it inspired him to make a rocket of his own. It won't be long before people travel to the station aboard the Dragon and other privately developed vehicles.