Yesterday, "Fearless Felix" Baumgartner was scheduled to launch in his custom built, one man capsule into near space. The Austrian pilot, professional skydiver and BASE-jumper is the star of the Red Bull Stratos Project, an attempt to free fall from a height of 120,000 feet, break the sound barrier and then parachute safely back to the ground in Roswell, New Mexico, where mission control is situated.
Four world records are up for breaking during this stunt, including highest speed in freefall, highest manned balloon flight, longest freefall and highest jump. Baumgartner's mentor, Colonel Joe Kittinger, holds the current records in all four categories from his jump from 102,800 feet in 1960.
Donning his fully pressurized space suit and 60lbs worth of main, reserve and drogue parachutes, Baumgartner waited in his capsule as his team members milled around the slowly inflating 55 story tall stratospheric balloon. Gusty winds postponed the launch by five hours, but team meteorologist Don Day had hopes that the air would calm. At 11:42 local time, the launch was officially aborted for the day, due to the uncontrollably billowing balloon.
The Stratos Project has been the result of over five years of planning. It represents not only an attempt to push the boundaries of the human body in free fall, but also near-space technology. The capsule, jump suit and parachutes have all been custom designed by the elite team of engineers and each boasts advances that will hopefully help improve upon future space exploration endeavors.
Baumgartner has already successfully completed two test jumps earlier this year, one from 13 miles up and one from 18 miles up. No new launch date has been set for the final 23 mile high jump.
Celebrate the brave Austrian with a holiday to his home town. A car rental in Salzburg is easy with Auto Europe.