Official Data from Daredevil Felix Baumgartner's Spectacular Freefall Released (Video)
Imagine reaching speeds of 833.9 mph as you hurtle through the Earth's atmosphere toward the planet. Now imagine if those speeds were incorrect and that somehow, impossibly, you had gone faster. As part of the Red Bull Stratos mission, daredevil Felix Baumgartner has performed some spectacular feats in freefall. Yet new findings released by Red Bull show that the man was actually travelling faster than at first estimated.
Last year, Baumgartner agreed to become part of the Red Bull Stratos mission, an initiative that sought to test the limits of human capabilities in space. He was flown up to 127,852.4 feet into the air over the New Mexico desert in a helium balloon before being dropped in a freefall to Earth. Yet it's only now that a private peer review at the California Center has released the true results of the spectacular dive. While Baumgartner was first said to have travelled at 833.9 mph, his new supersonic record is 843.6 mph. While his speed rose, though, the distance he fell dropped. The first findings were 128,100 feet, while he really dropped just under 128,000 feet.
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Yet success didn't come easily. Not only did the mission have to develop a new treatment for ebullism, a condition where blood spontaneously boils at altitudes of 63,000 feet, but a new parachute system had to be developed which could make the high-altitude payload recovery much easier to manage in the future. In previous renditions of parachutes, the chute itself would deploy the instant a high-altitude payload was released from its balloon. However, the newly designed parachute only opens a small portion for part of the decent and then opens fully a short time later. This allows scientists' prediction of the landing zone far more accurate, and reduces descent time by two-thirds.
Baumgartner is now officially the first human being to break the sound barrier in a freefall. It's a dream that the daredevil says he has nurtured ever since he started life as a professional jumper.
Want to see Baumgartner's jump? Check out the video below.