Baumgartner's spectacular skydive

2012-10-14 22:33

Los Angeles - Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner became the first man to break the sound barrier in a record-shattering freefall jump from the edge of space on Sunday, organisers said.

The 43-year-old leapt from a capsule more than 39km above the Earth, reaching a speed of 1 380km/h or Mach 1.24 before opening his red and white parachute and floating down to the New Mexico desert.

Mission control erupted in cheers as Baumgartner made a near-perfect jump from the capsule hoisted aloft by a giant helium-filled balloon to an altitude of 39 044m, even higher than expected.

"I think 20 tons have fallen from my shoulders. I prepared for this for seven years," Baumgartner told German-language ServusTV in Austria, in his first interview after the leap.

Referring to a helmet problem that nearly forced him to abort at the last minute, Baumgartner said: "Even on a day like this when you start so well, then there's a little glitch.

"And you think you'll have to abort - what if you've prepared everything and it fails on a visor problem. But I finally decided to jump. And it was the right decision."

Shortly before jumping, in footage beamed live around the world - on a crackly radio link recalling Neil Armstrong's first words on the Moon - he had said: "Sometimes you have [go] up really high to [realise] how small you are."

The Austrian took more than two hours to get up to the jump altitude. Baumgartner had already broken one record, before he even leapt: the previous highest altitude for a manned balloon flight was 34 442m, set in 1961.

Baumgartner had been due to jump from 36 576m, but the balloon went higher than expected, to more than 39km.

Austria proud

One of the first people to congratulate him was Austrian President Heinz Fischer.

"I warmly congratulate Felix Baumgartner on this great success, which was achieved with courage and perseverance and is finding worldwide attention. Austria is proud of your accomplishment," he wrote on his Facebook page.

The Red Bull Stratos mission was the second attempt for the skydiver after an initial bid on Tuesday was aborted at the last minute due to winds.

The biggest risk Baumgartner faced was spinning out of control, which could have exerted g-force and made him lose consciousness. A controlled dive from the capsule was essential, putting him in a head-down position to increase speed.

More gruesomely, the skydiver's blood could have boiled if there were the slightest tear or crack in his pressurized spacesuit-like outfit, due to instant depressurization at the extreme altitude.

Temperatures of -68°C could also have had unpredictable consequences if his suit somehow failed.

The leap went off flawlessly, though there was a minor problem as the capsule ascended: a heater failed on Baumgartner's helmet faceplate, meaning it was becoming fogged up when he exhaled.

After considering the options, Baumgartner and his entourage decided to go ahead with the jump.

Baumgartner's 100-strong backup team includes retired US Air Force colonel Joe Kittinger, who had held one of the records the Austrian was trying to break: the highest freefall jump, which Kittinger made from 31 333m in 1960.

Safer suit

"Let the guardian angel take care of you," Kittinger told Baumgartner shortly before he leapt into the void.

The giant balloon - which holds 859 000m³ of helium - is needed to carry the Red Bull Stratos capsule of nearly 1.3 tons to the stratosphere.

It is made of near transparent polyethylene strips even thinner than a dry cleaner bag, which are heat-sealed together. Very thin material is necessary to save weight.

The skydiver has been training for five years for the jump. He holds several previous records, notably with spectacular BASE jumps from the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Speaking before the launch, Baumgartner said he would be proud to be the first person to break the speed of sound in freefall.

"But really, I know that part of this entire experience will help make the next pressure suit safer for space tourists and aviators," the jumper said.

His launch coincided with the 65th anniversary of American pilot Chuck Yeager breaking the speed of sound.

  • momahomedy - 2012-10-14 22:54

    Simply brilliant

      stirrer.stirrer - 2012-10-15 14:14

      Whoop dee doo. What's so brilliant about falling? My grandmother also fell and broke her hip. You can drop a brick from that height and it will also fall to earth. What's so brilliant about opening a parachute at 1500m and landing safely? It gets done a thousand times a day.

  • diran.pillay - 2012-10-14 22:56

    Amazing live feed

  • lskosana3 - 2012-10-14 22:59

    So inspired by this wonderful man's bravery, amazing! Makes all the little challenges in my life look like a speck

  • bob.small.7547 - 2012-10-14 23:04

    Great achievement....!

  • cheslin.white.7 - 2012-10-14 23:06

    He is Iron Man. Legend!

  • vincent.surics - 2012-10-14 23:14

    Beats Chuck Norris

      Rafels1 - 2012-10-15 06:29

      No way. Chuck breaks the sound barrier with his attitude. He doesn't need altitude like this dude.

      CronjeJC - 2012-10-15 12:29

      Vincent, I hope, for your sake, Chuck don't read News24. EINA!!!

      willa.prinsloo - 2012-10-15 15:39

      NO the sound barrier is so scared of Chuck, it breaks itself

  • rodney.louis.7 - 2012-10-14 23:16

    amazing feat by the "rocket man " bravo

  • cliff.slabbert - 2012-10-14 23:19

    Cool stuff ! Well done! Mach 1.24 Ouch ! Wow! What else does one say!! That is one brave dude!!

      john.bucknall.1 - 2012-10-15 03:32

      The landing , on his feet with that heavy suit amazed me. What an incredible feat.

  • christine.briedenhann.5 - 2012-10-15 05:03

    This is something to be extremely proud of. Congratulations on an amazing achievement!

  • nicolas.gombert.16 - 2012-10-15 05:44

    To put it in perspective, this is higher than 128 000 feet. A normal aircraft cruises at 30 000 feet, so this is more than 9 times the heigt during a normal flight! Absolutely amazing!

      mike.lamb.7777 - 2012-10-15 06:28


      Jimmy NZ - 2012-10-15 07:30

      Lol... was about to say! I hope this chap doesn't work for SARS!

      gungets.tuft - 2012-10-15 07:56

      He jumped from 39km = 39000m = 127920 feet. It is 4.25 times the altitude of a commercial airliner. Little immaterial actually, as they would say in Delmas, still blerrie haai ek se.

      pearson.botha - 2012-10-15 08:49

      Never learned times tables and incapable of using a calculator. Way to go, must be outcomes based education in action

      colin.dovey - 2012-10-15 09:07

      Spelling as well :-) "HEIGT" = "HEIGHT" - OUCH!

      greg.quinn.353 - 2012-10-15 09:29

      12 times higher than a regular skydive!!

  • Steven Trollip - 2012-10-15 05:53


  • godesha - 2012-10-15 06:11

    Amazing, congrats Felix, I have been following your progress for months now. To think 7 years of preparation and it was over in minutes.

  • arthur.salvado - 2012-10-15 07:16

    Super hero, super achiever. Wow what a guy. Well done

  • thadelphukem.completely - 2012-10-15 07:18

    Felix, you have become a true legend and inspiration! Well done to you and your team...

  • zimbobwe.mugabe - 2012-10-15 07:28

    Sorry guys how much is this guy getting for this inspirational bravery??? Is he gonna live forever bcos of this??? Is making history gonna make him a better father??? I'm just confused...

      peter.tony.14 - 2012-10-15 07:33

      What's your point? Troll.

      zimbobwe.mugabe - 2012-10-15 07:57

      @Peter my point is what's the point of doing this??? I will take Malala's bravery as inspirational than this stunt. I mean he landed and so what??? Is he gonna save the earth, cure illnesses, stop the wars or feed the hungry??? I just don't get it...

      J.Stephen.Whiteley - 2012-10-15 08:04

      From the filming of it, and commentary, on Telegraph (google Felix Baumgartner) he is unmarried, has parents who were there.

      zimbobwe.mugabe - 2012-10-15 08:10

      @formadzen He said:"But really, I know that part of this entire experience will help make the next pressure suit safer for space tourists and aviators," the jumper said. So this is the scientific breakthrough you are talking about???Making safer jumt suits for space tourists??? Get real boetman!!!

      pearson.botha - 2012-10-15 08:53

      You were born confused, you are still confused today and when you are old you will still be confused. And that won't make you a better father either

      wesley.bischoff - 2012-10-15 09:00

      The point was to see what effect of breaking the sound barrier will have on the human body... try google... or go to a library and do some research.

      pearson.botha - 2012-10-15 09:01

      It's called exploring the limits of human potential zimbob. These are the things that brought you the internet, your medicines, your mass produced clothing, cellphones, cheap food and all the other (useless) gadgetry that make your life longer, more interesting and entertaining. Space tourism is just one small aspect. The case of Malala is about human tragedy and religious ignorance and the lack of freedom of thought, exactly the opposite.

      jess.wags.5 - 2012-10-15 10:01

      @zimbobwe. Of course he gets paid and promotes Red Bull and furthers science.It takes exceptional people to do exceptional things to improve the lot of this world. Mugabe also get paid-and what has he done for the world or his people.

      willa.prinsloo - 2012-10-15 15:43

      Simple my good man - if the Wright brothers did not attempt to fly, everything would still be moving on the ground. It is because of people who dare to explore that humankind can move forward.

  • adrian.tyler - 2012-10-15 07:35

    How can you call the article 'Baumgartner's spectacular skydive' but not have a video?

      pearson.botha - 2012-10-15 08:55

      Do you know how to use the interweb? Somebody help this guy.

      arthur.hugh - 2012-10-15 09:11

      It's right there man!

  • paul.hemming.39 - 2012-10-15 07:48


  • juanita.vanrooyen.98 - 2012-10-15 07:57

    a 9-5 job would surely kill him

  • rory.short1 - 2012-10-15 08:10

    A man who obviously likes taking risks but at the same time not somebody who is careless about doing so. It was obviously a very carefully planned attempt and thanks to all concerned it succeeded. He would have needed to have complete faith in his support team's capabilities otherwise he would not have risked it.

      pearson.botha - 2012-10-15 09:06

      Thanks for the insight, who would have guessed that this was "carefully planned"?

  • jess.wags.5 - 2012-10-15 09:00

    Give the man a Bells.

      willa.prinsloo - 2012-10-15 15:45

      C'mon Jess do better than quote from an ad. Be ORIGINAL

  • arthur.hugh - 2012-10-15 09:08

    I think that's the most incredible thing I've seen! Got vertigo just watching him jump haha.

  • kyle.berry.90857 - 2012-10-15 11:59

    How does breaking sound barriers with free fall actually contribute to a brighter future for mankind? How much money did this "massive achievement" cost? I really don't see the point. Please explain.

      zimbobwe.mugabe - 2012-10-15 12:23

      @kyle my point exactly but I see the gang decided to ignore you wonder why??? Check their response above, only two explained exactly what was this all about but the other wimps suffering from brain dead short men syndromes decided to go on attack.

      jess.wags.5 - 2012-10-15 13:10

      @Zimbobwe Whats the point of letting Mugabe reach old age?

      sean.goldie.9 - 2012-10-15 17:22

      The main objective of this was to test the design of the new pressure suit which will probably be incorporated into future astronaut missions, and in doing so there will probably be escape hatches built into future shuttles in the event of any trouble, astronauts would have the option to bale out before entering space and do exactly what Baumgartner did. That is the theory behind the whole project. The other less obvious reason is so that space exploration will continue in leaps and bounds and will hopefully result in an alternative location for humans to settle one day, we f*%6c&d up this world so we better find another one soon.

      cheslin.white.7 - 2012-10-16 20:21

      And the Wright brothers should have spent their time fishing instead hey buddy.

      kyle.berry.90857 - 2012-10-17 13:00

      look i understand that science needs moving forward, so we can find another planet to f*#k up, but i feel there are currently way better ways to spend 7 years of research and billions of dollars than this!?

  • sandy.ashworth.5 - 2012-10-15 12:02

    Amazing! Congrats Felix you're the man.

  • tony.delucchi - 2012-10-15 12:55

    ...well that took some doing! What if he missed the planet?

  • christiaan.niekerk.5 - 2012-10-15 14:47


  • simba.mandiveyi - 2012-10-15 15:11

    i can do that...easy peasy

  • willa.prinsloo - 2012-10-15 15:55

    HA HA and some people think Bungee is scary

  • lana.crous - 2012-10-16 06:09


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