High Altitude Parachutist Ready to Take Last Step

Freefall record attempt postponed until Saturday

Felix Baumgartner is preparing to break 52 year-old freefall altitude and speed record. Courtesy: Red Bull Stratos

A project that has been ongoing since 2005 may soon culminate in a record-setting human freefall attempt from 120,000 feet above New Mexico. Felix Baumgartner has been working with Red Bull on the Red Bull Stratos project that will not only try and set a record but also test supersonic human limits through the air without a vehicle.

The reason there is a record is because someone has done it before. Joe Kittinger set the current record (102,000 feet) in 1960 while testing spacesuits for the American space program and high speed ejections from aircraft. Kittinger, who is consulting on the Stratos project, used a balloon to get to altitude; the same method Baumgartner will use. 

Current record holder Joe Kittinger taking the leap in 1960. Courtesy: Getty Images

A lot of technology has happened in the 50 years since Kittinger’s jump and Baumgartner will be using a next-generation high-speed suit with some key improvements I wrote about in 2010.

Joe Kittinger almost reached the speed of sound in his freefall attempts but he was not high enough. Today’s attempt is 20,000 feet higher and should allow for the acceleration needed.

The Red Bull Stratos team aborted today’s mission (October 9) due to heavy winds with the next attempt expected Saturday October 13.

Listen to my EAA Radio interview with Joe Kittinger from 2010 here

Follow the jump live here when it happens


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