New Mexico, USA, – Austrian extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner and the Red Bull Stratos team are making the final preparations for their attempt to break Colonel Joe Kittinger’s 52-year-old record by freefalling 36,576 metres (120,000 feet) from a balloon in the stratosphere.
The 41-year-old wants to become the first person to break the speed of sound without the protection of an aircraft while simultaneously collecting data never obtained before for the advancement of medical science. After testing in an elaborate altitude (vacuum) chamber in Texas, the mission has moved on to a decisive phase at Roswell, New Mexico...
Col Kittinger himself has been an advisor to the Red Bull Stratos project from the very beginning and serves as a mentor to the 41-year-old Austrian athlete.
Felix Baumgartner has already completed record-breaking B.A.S.E jumps in some of the world’s most spectacular locations, such as the World Financial Centre T101 in Taipei, as well as performing one of the lowest B.A.S.E. jumps ever when he leapt from the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. In 2003, Baumgartner used carbon wings attached to his body to become the first man to skydive across the English Channel.
The leap from the edge of space will nevertheless be an entry into a new dimension even for Baumgartner. It is a step into the unknown. A team of leading technicians and scientists has spent the past five years developing the equipment and safety protocols necessary to assure the safe completion of the mission.
Red Bull Stratos will attempt to break four records at the same time that have remained unbroken for more than 50 years: the highest manned balloon flight 36,576 metres / 120,000 feet), the highest skydive, the first person to break the speed of sound during freefall, and the longest freefall (about 5 minutes 30 seconds).
The team will share all its findings and breakthroughs in the areas of aviation and aerospace with the science community around the world. Kittinger’s “Excelsior III” Mission proved to be instrumental in advancing research that led to improvements in safety for people in near space environments as well as improvements in the development of space suits. Mankind’s physical limits will be newly defined on this mission. The team aims to achieve advancements in medical science and contribute to the understanding of survival in space.
For Baumgartner this project is much more than merely attempting to break another record. “This mission is all about pioneer work. Maybe one day people will look back and say it was Felix Baumgartner and the Red Bull Stratos team that helped to develop the suit that they’re wearing in space. We want to do something for posterity.”
The mission will take place in Roswell because of the favourable conditions. The area is sparsely populated, it has some of the world’s best facilities for balloon launches such as this, and the weather allows several good windows for a successful launch.