120,000 Feet To Miles

Tuesday, 7 February 2012 | comments

120,000 Feet To Miles- Felix Baumgartner Skydiver & Sound Barrier, Austrian Felix Baumgartner Will Break the Records Jumping from skydiver: Felix Baumgartner will leap from a balloon and plummet 36,600 metres. After 35 seconds, he will break the sound barrier, and finally, at 1,524 m, he will deploy a parachute and - hopefully - land safely.

During his 10-minute journey to earth the Austrian will travel at more than 1,110 km/h inside a special suit, which must protect him from temperatures as low as -60 C.

He will rely on oxygen tanks because the air will be too thin to breathe, and hope that the sheer force of the fall does not make him black out.

His team will announce this week that an attempt to make the record-breaking jump will take place in August above New Mexico.

Baumgartner, who in 2003 became the first person to "skydive" across the English Channel, will undertake two test jumps at 18,300 m and 27,400 m in the coming months.

Speaking about being given the chance to make the jump, he said: "I am struggling to find the right words to express my happiness, how relieved and motivated I am."

Baumgartner said he hoped the stunt would provide valuable information on how humans will cope with space tourism and open new types of extreme sports such as space diving.

He added: "I always feel the danger because you might always be subject to an unexpected or emergency event. One single mistake might cause a real catastrophe. You are worried about being where humans shouldn't be.

"The longest time I've spent inside the suit with the front part of the helmet closed, is three hours, and to be honest, it was horrible.

"To jump and break the sound barrier will not be a mere record-breaking experience or another extreme event that ends once the mission is accomplished. This is an experience that will simulate the first human landing on the moon, and will benefit scientific research."

Baumgartner, who has also "base jumped" - parachuted from low altitudes - off the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, is hoping to beat a record held for 50 years by Joe Kittinger, a U.S. air force colonel who jumped from 31,300 m in 1960.

The skydive, which is being sponsored by the energy drink manufacturer Red Bull, would break four world records: the highest altitude free fall, the highest manned balloon flight, the longest distance travelled in free fall and the speed record for the fastest free fall.

Baumgartner, a helicopter pilot when he is not skydiving, will travel into the stratosphere in a specially adapted scientific weather balloon.

The giant helium balloon, which will inflate to a diameter of around 122 m, will take three hours to carry a pressurized capsule to 36,600 m - nearly 37 kilometres up. Commercial airliners typically cruise at between 9,144 m and 11,900 m.

At 37 km up, the air pressure is 1,000 times less than it is at sea level. Without his own oxygen supply, Baumgartner would suffocate and his blood would begin to boil because the boiling point of liquids falls as pressure falls.

A pressurized suit similar to those used by NASA astronauts will protect him from the harsh environment. Engineers have spent nearly two years developing and testing the suit in preparation for the jump.

Oxygen cylinders in the parachute pack will supply him with 20 minutes of oxygen, more than enough for the 10-minute skydive. The parachute itself has also been adapted so that Baumgartner can reach the cords to open it, given that the suit makes it difficult for him to move around freely.

Once the balloon reaches its highest altitude, Baumgartner will open the specially constructed capsule and launch himself into the unknown.

Scientists on his team estimate he will break through the sound barrier after around 35 seconds in the thin air of the stratosphere, reaching Mach 1.2.

At this altitude, the speed of sound is 1,110 km/h, slower than at sea level where the sound barrier is reached at 1,236 km/h, because of the difference in temperature and air density. The helmet of his suit has been constructed to protect him from the sonic boom as his passes through the sound barrier. It also features a heated visor and sun shield to help keep his vision clear.

After around five minutes of free fall, Baumgartner, will open his parachute at around 1,520 m.

The increased air resistance as the atmosphere thickens will help to slow him down before he pulls the cord. A further five minutes later he is due to land safely back on the ground.

The biggest danger he will face after jumping is going into a spin, which would cause him to black out.

This almost killed Kittinger in training in 1959 when a stabilizing parachute failed to open.

Baumgartner plans to use the skills he has developed during 2,500 jumps to control his own free fall, using movements of his arms and legs to control his flight.

His team hopes he will land as close as possible to the takeoff zone in New Mexico, but even the slightest breath of wind could throw him off course and he could drift up to 240 km with just a light breeze.

The jump was supposed to take place last year, but a legal case lodged against Red Bull by a promoter named Daniel Hogan, who claimed the stunt was his idea, meant that preparations were abandoned.

Last July, however, the legal dispute was resolved and the case was dismissed.

Baumgartner also faces competition from other skydivers hoping to break the record before him.

Michel Fournier, a 67-yearold retired U.S. air force colonel, is hoping to jump from an altitude of 40 km, but has faced delays.
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