Felix Baumgartner talks about Red Bull Stratos

For release of 'Red Bull Stratos - From the Edge of Space', we spoke to Baumgartner exclusively.
By Josh Sampiero

Starting today, you can view the one-year anniversary documentary about Red Bull Stratos. Find the full-length film online (for free) only at rdio.com/redbullstratos.

But before you jump, scroll down to read our exclusive interview with Fearless Felix.

Looking back a year later, what's the greatest achievement of Red Bull Stratos? What are you most proud of?

Red Bull Stratos proved that a human can survive accelerating through the sound barrier in freefall, and we gathered a lot of information –including the first-ever physiologic data from a person freefalling at supersonic speeds. It's incredibly useful for those who are exploring how people might be able to bail out of aircraft at ultra-high altitudes.

Otherwise, it was the inspiration Red Bull Stratos seemed to provide for people of all kinds, and all ages, around the world. We have received so many wonderful messages about how the mission has sparked kids to learn about science, or to create art, or… well, you name it. Lots of adults have told us that the jump was meaningful to them, too. To think that following our dream has in turn inspired others to follow their own dreams means a great deal to all of us on the mission team.
 

Felix Baumgartner and Art Thompson celebrate the successful completion of the Red Bull Stratos mission.
Felix Baumgartner and Art Thompson © Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool

Have you mentally moved on to the next challenge – and where is it? Space?

I’m always looking toward the next challenge.
But there are plenty of dates on my calendar related to Red Bull Stratos. On October 14 (the one-year anniversary of the jump), I’m going to be participating in a global live-stream Q&A with several members of the mission team, right before the premiere of a new documentary called “Mission to the Edge of Space: The Inside Story of Red Bull Stratos.” People from around the world will be able to submit their questions for consideration via Twitter handle @RedBullStratos. One of the highlights of the past year has been meeting fans and supporters, and I’m excited that some of their questions will be chosen.

For me, the next adventure is a very personal: Ever since I was little, I had two dreams: being a skydiver and flying helicopters. Now I’m ready to pursue that second dream.

Even before my Red Bull Stratos jump, I already had my private helicopter pilot’s license in Austria and the United States, as well as my commercial European license. I’ve done some piloting work when time has permitted, and in the future I’d like to put my skills into public service – piloting mountain rescues, helping to fight wildfires, and so on.

I think future adventures are for the next generation to envision; but people are definitely looking toward new horizons in space. That’s why government and private aerospace organizations have been interested in the mission data we’ve been sharing. They can build on what we learned for future exploration.

Pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria jumps out from the capsule during the final manned flight for Red Bull Stratos in Roswell, New Mexico, USA on October 14 2012
An historic 4:22 freefall © Red Bull Stratos

The big challenges of Red Bull Stratos are obvious. What were some of the hidden difficulties?

As a BASE jumper I was used to a certain kind of independence: very little equipment, very small teams. Even my freefall across the English Channel, which required lots of planning and some specialized equipment, was relatively simple compared to a jump from the edge of space! One of the biggest challenges for me personally was working with a large team and needing so much technology to survive. So I had to adjust my mindset.

Don’t get me wrong – these people were the best of the best in their fields, and we became like family. And the technology they came up with was incredible. Without it, I never could have jumped.

Felix Baumgartner of Austria sits in his capsule during the preparations
Felix Baumgartner inside his capsule © Jörg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

Other than Red Bull Stratos, what are the most incredible "free falls" in history?

I don’t like to rate my own jumps in order of importance, let alone the jumps of others. Each one has significance in its own way, for its own reasons. But I will say this: The jump that most inspired me ever since I was young – and that inspired me throughout all the years we prepared for Red Bull Stratos – was Joe Kittinger’s jump back in 1960. He jumped from over 19 miles high (31 km) without the technological advancements we have today. The fact that he survived opened the door to space exploration, because it proved a pressure suit could protect a person in that hostile environment. What Joe accomplished was remarkable then, and it is still remarkable today. I was honored to have him as a mentor, and I am even more honored to call him my friend.

Felix Baumgartner descends to the desert
Felix Baumgartner parachute © balazsgardi.com/Red Bull Content Pool

Simple question: Would you want to do it again?

I don’t really enjoy repeating something once I’ve accomplished my goal. I like fresh challenges, different experiences, learning new things. With Red Bull Stratos, we achieved what we set out to do. Now it’s time to move on.

To see the entire documentary online for free, visit rdio.com/redbullstratos

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