World Record Parachute Jump By Felix Baumgartner, A Round Up Of Coverage and Issues
Here is the video of the jump above.
Here is the video from his chest camera:
On October the 9th, Felix Baumgartner will jump from the edge of space at 120,000 feet, breaking the speed of sound as well as all the records for a human parachuting.
Normally, this would have been only mildly interesting, but I went to school with Fred Kittenger, son of current record holder Joe Kittenger. Fred was one of the nicest, most motivated young men that I went to school with. Unfortunately, his father didn’t seem to be a part of it.
Nevertheless, I was still fascinated with the feat and I liked Fred, plus it was a tremendous show of testicular fortitude which I admired. Many died trying to break his records and given the technology then vs. now, it was quite a feat.
Kittinger made his highest jump, and set the still unbroken high altitude jump record, on the third and last jump of Project Excelsior. On Aug. 16, 1960, Kittinger lifted off from an old abandoned airstrip north of Tularosa, New Mexico in an open gondola; his pressure suit was his only defense from the harsh environment of near space. At the tests starting altitude of 102,800 feet, Kittinger had 99.2 percent of the atmosphere beneath him.
Then he jumped, and the Beaupre multistage parachute system worked perfectly. After a 13 second free fall, a 6-foot parachute opened and stabilized his fall — this is the one that prevented the spin dummies that had fallen before experienced. After another four minutes and 36 seconds he was down to about 17,500 feet where the main 28-foot parachute opened. He floated the rest of the way to Earth.
Francis F. Beaupre came up with the system built around a series of parachutes that would deploy in sequence to stabilize the pilot. Here’s how the sequence was designed:
Right after bailing out, the pilot would pull a cord to release an 18-inch pilot parachute after a few seconds of delay. Once it was fully inflated, the pilot chute would pull out a 6-foot diameter stabilization parachute. Next would come the main parachute release. It would inflate partway until the pilot passed through 14,000 feet as measured by an aneroid barometer on his person. Passing this altitude would trigger full release of the 28-foot diameter main parachute. It would inflate fully, and he’d make a soft landing on Earth.
Beaupre’s stabilization parachute system worked at altitudes where jet aircraft were normally flying, but it needed to work higher. Aircraft like the X-15 were brushing the fringes of space, and they would need a safe way to bailout of the rocket plane just like pilots did from jet aircraft. So the Aeromedical Research Laboratory at Holloman Air Force Base began a series of high altitude parachute tests where pilots jumped from balloons. This was Project Excelsior.
Project Excelsior wasn’t a long term project. There were just three tests, but they were manned, most famously by then Captain Joseph W. Kittinger Jr.
I wish him luck and hope he makes it. It certainly is a ballsy feat.