Red Bull Stratos – freefall from the edge of space
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. Supported by a team of experts, Felix Baumgartner will undertake a stratospheric balloon flight to more than 120,000 feet / 36,576 meters and make a record-breaking freefall jump in the attempt to become the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall (an estimated 690 miles / 1,110 kilometers per hour), while delivering valuable data for medical and scientific advancement.
The entire ascend into the upper Earth atmosphere takes about 2 hours to an altitude of almost 128,000 feet. This manned balloon flight mission was initiated 7 years ago with an intent to break the speed of sound during skydiving. Because the air is so thin, it may be possible to break the sound speed during the first 30 second of descend. “The near absence of air at this high altitude means he should break the speed of sound as he falls – a velocity in excess of 690mph (1,110km/h),” according to the BBC. This particular jump intends to break the Guinness World Records in highest manned balloon flight, highest free fall (jump height), and fastest skydiving. This free fall duration took 4 minutes and 22 second, so it would not break Kittinger’s record (4 minute 36 second). Nevertheless, the free fall is the highest and the fastest, but not the longest duration.
Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner skydive from 37 kilometres (23 miles) above Roswell, New Mexico. The 43-year-old has been training for five years to make this jump.
Did Felix Baumgartner break the speed of sound?
The speed of sound in dry air is as follows:
At 0 degree celcius: 331.4m/s (1087ft/s) (742mph)
At -10 degree celcius: 325.3m/s (1067ft/s) (729mph)
At -20 degree celcius: 319.2m/s (1047ft/s) (715mph)
Prior to the jump at 128,000ft, the external temperature was -10 degree celcius. During the freefall, his body temperature would increase drastically due to friction.
According to the preliminary data & analysis, he broke the speed of sound at 373m/s, 1342.8km/h, 833.9mph. This translates to 1.24 Mach Number. However, I have a feeling his speed was only at or near the sound speed (729mph) according to the live broadcast. 729mph was the maximum speed shown during the live broadcasting, and then the footage briefly switched to the command center on the ground as if the broadcast tried to cover something up?!?! ò.ó A few seconds later, the footage was back to the skydiving with the speed of 729mph still, which started to decelerate afterwards. So, my speculation is the mission probably didn’t break the sound barrier. We’ll have to wait till the official announcement to find out.
World Records in this mission (Preliminary)
- Highest jump
- Longest freefall distance (not duration) without parachute
- Fastest vertical speed without parachute
Official results are not available yet, awaiting verification.
The current record for a high-altitude skydive was set in 1960 by Joe Kittinger, who jumped from a balloon flying at 31,333 metres (102,800 feet). Kittinger, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, fell for four minutes and 36 seconds and reached a maximum speed of 988 km/h (614 m/h) before opening his parachute.
The Austrian athlete hoped to top that by exceeding 1,110 km/h (690 m/h) — the speed of sound at the targeted altitude — and freefalling for five minutes and 35 seconds, from 123,000 feet (37,490 metres) above sea level.
The jump was more than three times the height of the average cruising altitude for jetliners.