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Phuket Gazette: Red Bull’s Baumgartner jumps from 96,640 feet

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO: Felix Baumgartner completed the final milestone remaining before he attempts to achieve his dream of becoming the first person to break the speed of sound in freefall. According to preliminary data, his test jump from a 5.3 million cubic-foot balloon achieved an altitude of over 96,640 feet, seeing Baumgartner accomplish a 3 minute, 48 second freefall jump reaching speeds of 862 kilometers per hour (536 mph).

Baumgartner landed in a desert area of the U.S. state of New Mexico, just about 15 minutes by helicopter from his launch site at Roswell International Air Center. As the ecstatic team gathered in Mission Control to welcome his return, technical project director Art Thompson commented: “It’s hard not to get emotional about today. We are just so glad to have Felix back on the ground after a long week with significant weather challenges. The crew did a great job.”

The test launch was twice delayed due to thunderstorms, wind and rain. But the team of aerospace experts was never discouraged, well aware that even Space Shuttle launches sometimes faced several days of postponement. Baumgartner’s successful test is proof that patience pays off.

The balloon for Baumgartner’s final ascent will rise as tall as a skyscraper – requiring surface winds of no more than 6.5kms per hour to avoid endangering its delicate plastic envelope. The date for the record jump is now subject to favorable weather conditions and critical post-jump assessments on the capsule and equipment.

Today’s successful test, with a balloon more than four times the size of the one that carried the pilot on the first test flight in March, delivered new insights for the progress of the project and also new research data for the benefit of aerospace research.

“It was a rough couple of days and an exhausting endeavor. I am now really excited. It has always been a dream of mine. Only one more step to go,” Baumgartner said after the successful landing.

Pending official data review and confirmation, the leap from over 96,640 feet takes Baumgartner past Russia’s Yevgeny Andreyev (83,523 feet) to make him only the second man to have successfully completed a jump from such an altitude. His planned freefall from 120,000 feet would finally break the record of 102,800 feet set 52 years ago by the only man who has jumped from a higher altitude, Baumgartner’s mentor Joe Kittinger.

Red Bull Stratos is a mission to the edge of space that will try to surpass human limits that have existed for more than 50 years. In the jump, Baumgartner is slated to become the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall (1,110kmph/690 mph), while delivering valuable data for medical and scientific advancement.

— Phuket Gazette Editors / Red Bull

 

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