On a Sunday afternoon in October, in Roswell, New Mexico, Red Bull Stratos, the mission to the edge of space, made history, with Felix Baumgartner breaking the sound barrier during his 128,000 feet jump back to earth…
In front of a global audience of millions who watched the mission live, Felix took off, ascending to a total of 24.5 miles in a stratospheric balloon before jumping out. While standing outside his capsule preparing to jump from the edge of space, Felix said: “Sometimes you have to go really high to understand how small you are.”
After accelerating to a top speed of 833 mph or Mach 1.24, he shattered the speed of sound during his 4 minute freefall. Felix deployed his parachute, landing safely on the ground and toppling records that have stood for more than 50 years.
As Felix dropped to his knees, raising his fists in triumph, it was a case of mission accomplished as the team celebrated the unique achievement which includes the breaking of three world records and which will also provide future aerospace projects with a wealth of research and data.
How do you feel now that you’ve had some time since your jump in October to think about your achievements?
It’s still too much to fully comprehend. Besides the physical exhaustion and mental exhilaration, the huge response from people from around the world has been humbling. I am still taking it all in, and I truly appreciate all the good wishes and congratulations that have come my way. It’s been incredible.
What are your plans for the near future?
While I’ve enjoyed my time in New Mexico and will never forget my experiences – or the people – here, it’s time for me to start working my way home. I am heading to Los Angeles today, where I stayed while I did a lot of my training. I’ll enjoy some Southern California sunshine while I pack up and continue to try to absorb what I’ve experienced. After that, I’ll get on the long flight back to Switzerland and — not too long from now — also Austria, to re-connect with all the family and friends who are waiting for me. I can’t wait to see them!
How does it feel for a man who has just accomplished the dream of a lifetime?
Baumgartner: “I feel like 20 tonnes of ballast have just dropped off my shoulders, that’s how it feels after seven years of preparation and after you’ve played through this moment in your mind so many times before. It was an incredible up and down today, just like it’s been with the whole project. First we got off with a beautiful launch and then we had a bit of drama with the chest pack. We were close to aborting the mission because the heater for my visor wasn’t working properly. I thought ‘this can’t be happening’. It didn’t get any better and it was very draining. But we decided to go ahead anyhow. As you can see that was the right decision.”
Our hearts all stood still as you started to spin. It looked like about 30 times. Were you counting yourself?
“The exit was actually perfect. I felt like I came away very well. But then I started spinning slowly. I thought I’d just spin a few times and that would be that, but then I started to speed up. It was really brutal at times. I thought for a few seconds that I’d lose consciousness. I didn’t feel a sonic boom because I was so busy just trying to stabilize myself. We’ll have to wait and see if we really broke the sound barrier. It was really a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.” Besides the physical exhaustion and mental exhilaration, the huge response from people from around the world has been humbling. I am still taking it all in, and I truly appreciate all the good wishes and congratulations that have come my way. It’s been incredible.
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