Sunday 19 November 2017

Leap of faith from 29km above Earth

Felix Baumgartner prepares to jump during the first manned test flight for Red Bull Stratos over Roswell, New Mexico.
Felix Baumgartner prepares to jump during the first manned test flight for Red Bull Stratos over Roswell, New Mexico.

MARCIA DUNN

Skydiver 'Fearless Felix' Baumgartner made his second stratospheric leap yesterday, this time from more than 29km above the Earth -- nearly three times higher than cruising jetliners.

The Austrian landed safely near Roswell, New Mexico, according to a project spokeswoman. His top speed was an estimated 862kmh, said Brian Utley, an official observer on site.

It's a personal best for Baumgartner, who is aiming for a record-breaking jump from 37km in a month.

He hopes to go supersonic, breaking the speed of sound with just his body.

"It has always been a dream of mine," Baumgartner said in a statement following yesterday's feat. "Only one more step to go."

Longtime record-holder Joe Kittinger jumped from 31km in 1960 for the Air Force. The 84-year-old Kittinger monitored yesterday's jump.

The 43-year-old Baumgartner ascended alone in an enclosed capsule lifted by a giant helium balloon. He wore a full-pressure suit equipped with parachutes and an oxygen supply. There's virtually no atmosphere that far up.

NASA is paying attention to the project called Stratos, short for stratosphere. The US space agency wants to learn all it can about potential escape systems for future rocket ships.

Baumgartner, a former military parachutist and extreme athlete, has jumped more than 2,500 times from planes and helicopters, as well as from skyscrapers and landmarks, including the 101-storey Taipei 101 in Taiwan.

Irish Independent

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