Warm Southern Breeze

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Parachutist to Set Record with Jump from Edge of Outer Space

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, October 8, 2012

The previous record of 19 miles was set in 1960 by Colonel Joe Kittinger, United States Air Force (ret.), who held the altitude and speed records since then, when he jumped from a balloon during a research project. He was not labeled a “daredevil” as this man has been.

October 8, 2012

Daredevil Sets Sight on a 22-Mile Fall

Record Setting height parachute jump

Felix Baumgartner prepared to jump during the first manned test flight over Roswell, N.M., on Monday. (Jay Nemeth/Red Bull, via Associated Press)

ROSWELL, N.M. — Whatever the leap means for mankind, it should definitely be one giant step for a man.

Felix Baumgartner, a professional daredevil, plans to step off a balloon-borne capsule 22 miles above Earth on Tuesday morning and plummet for five and a half minutes until opening his parachute a mile above the New Mexico desert. If all goes as planned, he will do a series of barrel rolls in the near-vacuum of the stratosphere and then plunge headfirst at more than 700 miles per hour, becoming the first sky diver to break the sound barrier.

Mr. Baumgartner, 43, a former Austrian paratrooper who became known as Fearless Felix by leaping off buildings, landmarks and once into a 600-foot cave, said that this was his toughest challenge, because of the complexity involved and because of an unexpected fear he had to overcome: claustrophobia. During five years of training, he started suffering panic attacks when he had to spend hours locked inside the stiff pressurized suit and helmet necessary for survival at the edge of space.

But he persevered with the help of psychological conditioning and a mentor, Joe Kittinger, a retired Air Force colonel who has held the altitude and speed records since 1960, when he jumped 19 miles from a balloon during a research project (after nearly dying in a practice jump). Mr. Kittinger, now 84, will be the only voice on the radio guiding Mr. Baumgartner during the two-hour ascent to the stratosphere.

“Felix trusts me because I know what he’s going through — and I’m the only one who knows what he’s going through,” Mr. Kittinger said on Sunday at the mission-control center here.

And just why would anyone want to go through this? Both men like to stress the science to be learned, but there are, of course, other motives.

“All of my life I have been looking for unique goals, things no one has accomplished,” Mr. Baumgartner said.

Mr. Kittinger knew just what he meant. “From the beginning of mankind, the boys want to go higher, faster, lower,” he said. “It’s a fascinating part of human nature. We’re never satisfied with the status quo.”

Previous attempts to break Mr. Kittinger’s records have Read the rest of this entry »

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