Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Jump From Heaven

On Sunday, Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner, 43, said, “It’s time to go home,” and stepped off the platform of his capsule at 129,000 feet, 24 miles above Earth.

Wearing a specially-designed, pressurized suit, Baumgartner reached 834 miles-an-hour, becoming the first human to break the sound barrier without being in a plane or rocket. In a standard skydive terminal speed for an adult—the fastest speed possible considering weight and gravity—is 120 miles-per-hour.

According to the Associated Press Baumgartner's accomplishment came on the 65th anniversary of the day U.S. test pilot Chuck Yeager became the first person to officially break the sound barrier in a jet. Yeager, in fact, commemorated his feat on Sunday, flying in the back seat of an F-15 Eagle as it broke the sound barrier at more than 30,000 feet above California's Mojave Desert.

Baumgartner, known as “Fearless Felix” in Austria, trained for seven years to make the jump which was supposed to be made last summer. He was delayed a number of times due to high winds, damage to the capsule which occurred during two practice jumps from 15 and 19 miles up, and a bout of claustrophobia suffered when he began practicing in the small capsule and tight suit.

After landing he told reporters, “You have to get really high up to realize how small we are.”

The project, called Red Bull Stratos, was sponsored by the energy drink company which refused to divulge the total cost of the project. Red Bull enlisted the help of NASA and variety of private corporations to create the largest balloon ever made, the special suit and the capsule.

Baumgartner broke the record of Joe Kittinger, a former Air Force colonel who jumped from 19 miles high in the mid-60s. Kittinger, now 84, worked in the Red Bull Stratos project as advisor and capsule communicator. His voice was the only voice Baumgartner heard while rising to jump altitude and stepping out on the platform.

Whether jumping from 24 miles high or raising good kids or going the extra mile in the workplace we can all do great things.

Baumgartner and Kittinger are simply examples of the figurative and literal heights to which humans can rise.

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