By the Numbers: Felix Baumgartner’s Record Jump

We analyze Felix’s supersonic stats in motorsports terms.
Felix Baumgartner crouches near car © Philip Platzer/Red Bull Content Pool
By Carter Jung

What the Stratos program accomplished a year ago is nothing less than extraordinary. Neil Armstrong may have taken the one small step for man, but it was Felix Baumgartner who took the giant leap from 24 miles up.
On the first anniversary of his supersonic jump, we compiled Felix’s stats and put them in context for us gearheads.

Felix stepped off the capsule at an altitude of 127,852 feet, traveling a vertical distance of 119,431 ft (36,403 meters) during his freefall. If you took Austin’s Circuit of the Americas, the home of the upcoming Formula One race, and unraveled it, Felix would have fell more than six and a half laps. That’s more than the height of a 12,000 story building.

The fastest speed Felix achieved during his freefall was 833.9 mph. With a top speed of 257.87 mph, the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport holds the title as the fastest production car on the planet. Felix traveled at a velocity more than three times the Bugatti without burning an ounce of petrol. That’s an mpg rated at an infinity. Take that, Prius.

Felix fell for 34 seconds before going supersonic, the first person to do so without the aid of vehicular power. The ThrustSSC, the first car to officially break the sound barrier, relied on two afterburning Rolls-Royce jet engines found in F-4 Phantoms. Felix only had gravity and a set of two very large balls.

Felix was in freefall for four minutes and 22 seconds. A NASCAR driver at the Daytona 500 would’ve clicked off about 5 and a half laps in the duration of Felix’s dizzy spell.

From the initial jump to landing, the whole descent took nine minutes and nine seconds. The same NASCAR driver would’ve completed about 11 and a half laps. For our Red Bull Moto Spy fans, in about a third of the way into a moto, Felix made history.

NHRA safety rules requires cars exceeding 150 mph in the quarter-mile require one parachute; cars traveling faster than 200 mph must have two parachutes. By that logic, Felix would have needed 14. Instead, Mr. Baumgartner deployed his single parachute 5,300 feet above ground and landed on the ground like a champ.

To watch the documentary behind Felix Baumgartner’s accomplishment, click here.

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