Felix Baumgartner is going to jump from the edge of space. If successful, he's going to become the first man in history to go supersonic without any mechanical propulsion aid whatsoever. He's now getting ready.
Update: the launch was aborted. You can watch the video of the abort and the aftermath here.
He will break many records. One of them was set by United States Air Force Captain Joe Kittinger on August 16, 1960. Kittinger jumped from the Excelsior III balloon, which at the time was flying at 102,800 feet-that's 19.47 miles or 31 kilometers up in the sky. Felix will do at least 120,000 feet, 23 miles.
More importantly, if everything goes right, he will be the first man to go supersonic without any propulsion aid. That has to hurt.
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6:15PM Here's a photo of Felix getting out of the capsule:
2:28PM Just added a video of the abort. Closing the live coverage until the next launch window. Thank you all for reading and watching, and godspeed Felix! Next time it will be the good one.
2:06PM Mission control hasn't told us when the launch will be resumed, but with the weather getting worse over the next couple days, it will have to wait at least until Friday. Stay tuned for updates.
2:04PM Once again, the launch has been aborted because of heavy winds, which started just as they were ready to roll. The problem with heavy winds at launch is that they can make the capsule bounce around. The inherent risks in that for both the capsule and its pilot are obvious.
2:01PM Kittinger looks sad at ground control too.
1:49PM They are taking him out of the capsule.
1:48PM Felix looks pissed off.
1:46PM The weather is going to deteriorate over the next two days, which is why they were pushing for a launch today.
1:43PM The winds have increased just now and mission control says they have to cancel the launch.
1:42PM Oh no. The launch has been cancelled!
1:38PM For those who asked, yes, Felix can pee in his suit. He has a special UCD device that will allow him to do this safely. That will avoid any Alan Shepard situation at the launch pad of his Freedom 7 mission.
1:37PM AND IT STARTS! All systems ready.
1:31PM We have time for the fourth record to be broken today if everything goes as planned: Felix will experience the longest free fall in history, an expected 5 minutes and 35 seconds. The current record also belongs to his mentor Kittinger: 4 minutes and 36 seconds.
1:29PM Official broadcast has been delayed five more minutes.
1:25PM Felix is strapped in the capsule now. His words to ground control:
"I am strapped into the capsule, and I am ready to go."
That reminds me of the launch scene from Contact. "OK to go!" We are ready too.
1:19PM Here's Felix just before being raised into the capsule:
1:15PM Or maybe he's calm and concentrated. Remember that he has done preparatory jumps before, apart from his experience jumping from extreme places like the Petronas towers, so he knows what he is doing. Still, the whole supersonic speed and the parachute deployment is still a big question mark, as it has never been achieved before.
1:14PM This guy is such a badass. He's probably just thinking: "I may end up smashed or in pieces, but what a ride this is going to be."
1:07PM Inflation of the balloon has begun.
1:00PM Felix is entering the capsule! Here's an image of him approaching the vehicle:
12:56PM They have pushed the broadcast start to 1:30PM EDT. This is killing me.
12:50PM I think Felix is going to have a ride even more exhilarating than an actual rocket flight to space. While it must be amazing to feel the roar of a Soyuz and then live in orbit, the thrill and adrenalin rush of this space jump must be off the charts. What do you think? Write your thoughts in the comments.
12:49PM All systems nominal. 10 minutes till the official broadcast starts. 25 minutes till launch! Oh boy.
12:41PM Back to the speed record, nobody really knows what's exactly going to happen when Felix goes supersonic. Some people believe that, being such a small mass and the atmosphere being so thin, he will not suffer (much).
The suit will be monitoring him, sending data to the ground and keeping oxygen and pressure levels so he survives the fall. Hopefully, it will all work right and his body will sustain the extreme conditions he is going to go through.
Things will get violent up there. Watch this. While this is a dramatization from the movie The Right Stuff, Yeager's record was quite a ride.
12:35PM Weather still good. South wind is only 0.8mph (1.3km/h).
12:30PM Reminder: Felix is pre-breathing, getting adjusted to the conditions in the capsule down here on Earth. Look at him, sitting there so calmly. I wonder what's going through his head.
Someone on Twitter: "They are replacing his blood with Red Bull."
12:24PM If successful, this will be the first time in history that any human reaches the speed of sound without mechanical propulsion. The first human to reach that speed using a plane was the legendary Chuck Yeager: he broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, piloting the Bell X-1:
12:23PM The third record will be speed. Felix is expected to reach and surpass Mach 1, the speed of sound. That's an amazing 690MPH. The current record belongs to Kittinger, who reached 614MPH, Mach 0.9.
12:17PM Everything is proceeding as expected.
12:09PM By the way, there's a contest to guess where Felix will land. You can play it here and get a Zenith El Primero Stratos Flyback Striking 10th watch. Not bad.
12:01PM Felix is getting ready now to pre-breathe.
11:59AM Ok, people, this is happening. I'm starting to freak out now. Felix is now being assisted as he puts his suit on. Everything is going as planned. Here's a photo of the moment, taken a few seconds ago:
11:57AM Countdown is back up. Expected launch time: 11:15AM MDT (1:30PM EDT)
11:54AM Here's a photo of Kittinger's jump. This is what Baumgartner is facing today, the most terrifying skydive you can imagine:
11:45AM So while we wait for the crew to deploy the balloon, here's the second record that Felix is going to break: the freefall from the highest altitude. The previous record was set by United States Air Force Captain Joe Kittinger on August 16, 1960. His jumps were crucial for the space program. That day he jumped from 102,800 feet. The Austrian daredevil will jump from a minimum of 120,000 feet.
Kittinger is one of Felix's advisors. His experience has been crucial for this flight. This is Felix and Joe next to a photo of the latter around the time of the original record space jump.
11:35AM Look at the balloon crew deploying it live now.
11:32AM The balloon that will take the capsule up to 120,000 feet (or higher) is really huge: 30 million cubic square feet!
11:29AM Things seem to be going according to plan now. I'm getting excited again.
11:07AM Balloon layout has started in preparation to inflation and launch. Here's a photo of the balloon team getting it ready for deployment:
11:06AM Mission has been resumed. Weather seems clear and mission control will give an update soon.
10:07AM The capsule is on the flight line and waiting for the next update by the mission meteorologist. The flight has not been cancelled. Still waiting for weather change.
9:34AM Mission meteorologist Don Day says that they are waiting for the wind to calm down.
9:27AM Another delay caused by weather conditions. This time 11:30AM MDT (1:30PM EDT) is the earliest launch. We will keep updating. What a let down. Come on weather, clear up!
9:09AM Launch has been delayed now: 8:30AM MDT (10:30AM EDT).
9:02AM This is a photo of Prather and Ross in the Stratolab-V. Compared to Stratos' high tech capsule, it looks like a flying latrine laminated with foil.
8:56AM If everything goes right—and make no mistake, there are plenty of chances of things going wrong—Felix will break four world records. The first is the highest manned ballon flight: at least 120,000 feet. It could go higher than that. The current record belongs to Lieutenant Commander Victor A. Prather Jr. and US Navy Reserve Captain Malcolm D. Ross, who climbed up to 113,740 feet in May 4, 1961.
8:49AM This illustration shows exactly the process and records that Felix will break, four in total. On the left: one of Felix's last training sessions in a photo from Sunday, October 7. Click on the images to expand them to full screen.
8:41AM Here's the man and his suit:
8:38AM It's worth noting that this is being done not just for the stunt: Felix's suit is loaded with sensors that will provide very valuable data to NASA and other space agencies. Nobody has jumped before this high and this fast.
8:36AM I mean, he has done a few preparatory jumps, but this one is going to break the sound barrier. What will happen then?
8:35AM Earliest launch is now 8:00AM MDT (10AM EDT). There's not live sound from the site. I'm not jumping and I have a knot in my stomach, thinking about what Felix must be going through now.
8:33AM We got sound for a few seconds. Things appear to be moving on.
8:27AM Here's how it will all happen: The 41-year old Austrian Baumgartner will jump from an altitude of 23 miles (120,000 feet or 37 kilometers), getting close to the edge of the stratosphere. When he does that, he will fall for an estimated 5 minutes and 30 seconds, breaking the speed of sound in the process. After flying at Mach 1 for a while, he will open his parachute at one mile (about 1,500 meters). If everything goes ok, he will reach the ground 10 minutes later.
8:18AM Felix said yesterday that fear was a good friend of his, as it made him go "not too far." I hope he's not drinking a lot of Red Bull as they discuss weather conditions at the site. Here's Luke Aikins and the rest of the Stratos team looking at the weather conditions over Roswell.
8:14AM In the meantime, you can watch the dawn in Roswell, New Mexico. Pretty.
8:08AM The mission is now on weather hold, but things are getting ready. Here's an image of the balloon that will take Felix 23 miles up in space.