A disappointed Felix Baumgartner.It's a bird, it's a plane, no, it's Austrian extreme-sport skydiver Felix Baumgartner hurtling 690 miles an hour toward Earth in some fancy pants pressurized space suit. Well, almost. The 43-year-old former military parachutist was all set to launch a 700-foot-tall helium balloon 120,000 feet into the air above New Mexico, where, in the stratosphere, he was going to release the balloon and fall 23 miles back to the ground, breaking the sound barrier along the way ... but that didn't happen. High winds got in the way and the crew called off the stunt. Baumgartner is attempting to be the first skydiver to break the sound barrier without mechanical help, and thus set an impressive new world record. Called the Red Bull Stratos mission, Baumgartner's leap from above has been postponed.
They may try to launch again tomorrow, but the forecast doesn't look promising.
I'm sorry, but can you believe that a guy is going to jump from a balloon, about 23 miles above the Earth, and live to tell? I mean, the most adventurous and science-advancing thing I've done all week is eat some moldy bread and ignore a sell-by date on some milk. Thank god there are guys like Baumgartner out there who actually contribute to the world's encyclopedia.
Because his death-defying leap from the stratosphere (which is about four times as high as the average commercial jet flies) isn't just for fame and glory. The suit that Baumgartner will use will be studied and probably copied by NASA scientists who will use the technology for next-generation space suits to keep astronauts even more safe.
Obviously, Baumgartner faces many a risk in this endeavor, not the least of which was the wind that thwarted his mission today. Then there's the fact that the lightweight balloon could tear unexpectedly and send him careening, or the fact that the suit could also rip when he's airborne, exposing him to 70-degree below freezing temps that would make his blood bubble, then there's the patent and, almost mundane at this point, parachute failure.
Check out YouTube for a live stream of the event once the postponement time and place have been confirmed. Here's to a safe launch and landing, whenever it may be!
Will you watch?
Photo via redbull/YouTube