Ten years have passed since Felix Baumgartner accomplished the (nearly) unthinkable by leaping from the edge of space to the ground. Baumgartner was propelled by a balloon to a height of over 39 kilometers (127,852.4 feet), at which point he made the leap in a specially made pressure suit, fell through the air in freefall, and then opened a parachute to land safely on the earth. On the occasion of its tenth anniversary, a new documentary shows Red Bull Stratos in all of its untamed glory.
The expedition combined serious scientific studies to see whether it was even feasible with maybe the biggest marketing ploy in history. But after a tense spiral in freefall that nearly knocked Baumgartner out, he touched down, and Stratos shattered the previous record for the highest freefall. Additionally, Baumgartner made history by becoming the first person to break the sound barrier without the aid of an engine.
The feat proved that the human body can resist such a freefall, and it also had an impact on future systems.
According to Red Bull Technical Project Director Art Thompson, “the impact that it had on education and the next generation’s desire to become aerospace or flight test engineers was significant.”
Additionally, we changed the configuration of the life support system for [high altitude jets, including] the U-2 using the technology and data from the capsule’s life support system.
The jump had some issues even though it was successful. Baumgartner slid into a “death spin,” swiftly spinning horizontally as he sped to the speed of sound, only a few seconds after entering freefall. Skydivers fear such a spin because the forces pushing outwards can cause a sudden loss of consciousness and make it impossible to pull the chute. As the live transmission continued, the feed abruptly switched to the control room out of concern.
But because of Baumgartner’s abundance of knowledge, he was able to stop the spin and recover total control. He is currently a helicopter aerobatic pilot, which is extremely rare in the globe.
“We were a really ambitious group of individuals that realized a goal. And we were successful after working so hard for so long,” added Baumgartner.
“I genuinely believe that we all left a legacy because everyone contributed significantly to the mission’s success with Red Bull Stratos. It’s time to celebrate after 10 years.