Space Jumper Breaks More Records Than Previously Thought

Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic freefall on October 14 had high hopes. The Red Bull-sponsored space jumper wanted to become the first human to break the sound barrier without a plane. To do that, he would have had to set a world record 125,000-foot dive armed with gear that would slow him down and keep him alive during the nearly six-minute free fall.

Now, nearly four months later, data collected during the jump has been analyzed and the results are even more amazing that first thought.

Baumgartners vertical speed, for example, was first thought to be about 833 miles per hour, Mach 1.24. Later analysis indicated an actual speed of 844 miles per hour, Mach 1.25. That’s important information to get right, considering it was the first physiologic data ever captured from a human freefalling faster than the speed of sound.

Conducting a private peer review, NASA astronauts, U.S. Air Force officers and representatives from commercial aerospace companies such as Virgin Galactic, Northrop Grumman, SpaceX, XCOR, Sierra Nevada Corporation and more were involved.Some other interesting statistics from the jump:

  • Baumgartner’s heartbeat reached a maximum of 185 beats per minute.
  • 25.2 seconds of absolute weightlessness were experienced during the initial free fall.
  • A period of turning and spinning reached a maximum rate of 60 revolutions per minute.
  • In a “flat spin” position for about 13 seconds, Baumgartner stabilized his trajectory using skydiving skills.
  • The space suit used was custom designed to provide the mobility needed for a controlled free fall, enhance visual acuity, GPS tracking and thermal protection.
  • The jump altitude was 24 percent higher than the previously known highest exit altitude.
  • Technically, Baumgartner was not in danger with all physiologic data well within anticipated parameters, never exceeding safety margins.

What was it like?

“It feels like you are floating into space, and then you pick up speed very fast – but you don’t feel the air because the air density is so low,” said Baumgartner in a Red Bull press release. “For almost 35 seconds I couldn’t sense the air around me because basically there was none. That kind of helpless feeling is annoying as a professional skydiver. And then when you finally enter a thicker air layer you have to keep yourself completely symmetrical because otherwise you start spinning, which is what happened to me.”

Let’s take another look:

[Photo Credit- Red Bull/Joerg Mitter and Jay Nemeth]