Felix Baumgartner’s 23-Mile Freefall Attempt: By the Numbers

  • Share
  • Read Later
Red Bull Content Pool / AFP / Getty Images

Pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria stands in his trailer during the preparation for the final manned flight of Red Bull Stratos in Roswell, N.M., on Oct. 6, 2012.

Keep your eye on the edge of space Tuesday morning — a human will be falling from it. In an attempt to break a 52-year-old record, Felix Baumgartner will step off of a balloon 23 miles above the Earth and free-fall through the atmosphere. Baumgartner, an Austrian skydiver, BASE jumper and all-around daredevil, has partnered with Red Bull in the Stratos project, which is attempting to net him a number of world records. The planning process has been a seven-year endeavor, filled with scientific and technological details flying from all angles. So we thought we’d crunch the numbers.

-90 degrees Fahrenheit: Minimum air temperature Baumgartner’s specially-designed pressurized spacesuit can withstand.

-10 degrees Fahrenheit: Air temperature predicted 23 miles up as Baumgartner steps out of his capsule.

Less than 1%: Air pressure at the altitude of Baumgartner’s jump, as a percentage of that at sea level.

55 stories: Height of the 30-million-cubic-foot helium balloon that will hoist Baumgartner and his 2,900-pound protective capsule into space.

2: Number of practice runs before Tuesday’s record-breaking attempt. His first practice fall was from 71,000 feet in March 2012, and his second was from 97,000 feet in July.

(PHOTOS: From the Edge of Space: Felix Baumgartner Prepares for a Death-Defying Dive)

3: Number of cameras attached to Baumgartner’s suit to record his descent. He’ll have one on each thigh and one on his chest pack.

5: Number of records Baumgartner’s jump will break if successful. He’s aiming to be the first human to ever break the sound barrier in free-fall and to claim the records for highest free-fall altitude, highest manned balloon flight and longest free-fall. His jump platform is believed to be the largest manned balloon in history.

5 minutes and 35 seconds: Amount of time Baumgartner is expected to free-fall.

6:00 a.m. Mountain time: Time on Tuesday when the man known as “Fearless Felix” will drop from his capsule at the edge of space over Roswell, New Mexico.

6 mph: Maximum wind speed for a safe launch. The initial launch was delayed one day, until Tuesday, because of a cold front bringing strong winds to the drop site.

12 lbs.: Weight of Baumgartner’s chest pack, which contains all of his monitoring and tracking systems.

20 minutes: Maximum amount of time he’ll spend dropping through the atmosphere. He’ll spend a majority of that time – as many as 15 minutes – slowly descending to earth after opening his parachute.

(WATCH: 138 Skydivers Break Vertical Formation World Record, and It’s Awesome)

34 seconds: The time it will take him to go from 0 to 690 mph (Mach 1, the speed of sound). Air Force Col. Joe Kittinger, the current height and speed record holder, only made it to 614 mph during his jump 52 years ago from 102,900 feet. Baumgartner would be the first person to break the sound barrier if he manages to do so during his jump.

43: The age of Baumgartner, a native of Salzburg, Austria.

220 rpm: Rate of spin Baumgartner could reach while falling. Tests have shown that a human spinning at 140 rpm can be harmful and quite possibly fatal.

260 lbs.: Complete weight of Baumgartner’s pressurized space suit.

120,000 feet: The atmospheric height, laying right at the edge of space, from which Baumgartner will start his BASE jump.

5,000 feet: The altitude at which Baumgartner will deploy his parachute, after 5½ minutes (and 115,000 feet) of free-fall.

(MORE: How Do You Document a Freefall From 120,000 Feet Up?)

Your Guess Is As Good As Ours: Cost of the Red Bull Stratos project, which has required more than seven years of development, two practice runs, and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on developing Baumgartner’s helium balloon and safety equipment.

0: Number of jumps he’ll perform after this one. Baumgartner says he plans to settle down with his girlfriend after this, limiting his daredevil skills to flying helicopters on rescue and firefighting missions in the U.S. and his native Austria.

WATCH: Joe Kittinger’s 102,800 ft Descent

10 comments
MadeleineThomas
MadeleineThomas

exceeding 690 mph is jst a speed, irrelavent of height or mass, whereas exceeding Mach 1 depends upon speed of sound ie M = V/c (c = speed of sound) however speed of sound changes due to pressure and since there pressure is much less at an altitude of 128 km then the speed of sound is much greater than at sea level (where c is about 340 m/s) therefore to exceed Mach 1 and breakt he sound barrier, Felix must reach and exceed the speed of 690 mph as this is the speed of sound at that altitude :) hope tht makes sense... oh and theres a lot of number crunching involved to figure it all out

afmajret
afmajret

Will one of you bright aeronautical types out there clarify for me the difference between exceeding 690 MPH (which he did without question) and exceeding MACH 1 at altitude (which I'm not sure he did)?

Kipp
Kipp

Just a point of info - with thousands of skydives and BASE jumps to his name, I'm fairly certain Felix will jump again. I think the "I want to settle down with my girlfriend" comment is more about another attempt to freefall from the stratosphere than it is skydiving/BASE altogether.

Lisa Eichler-Johnson
Lisa Eichler-Johnson

And how many of the worlds probs could have been aided with this money? Instead of a silly stunt...

Nathanael Paredes
Nathanael Paredes

If this goes well, I can already see Redbull crying tears of money!!!! XD

MadeleineThomas
MadeleineThomas

 exceeding 690 mph is jst a speed, irrelavent of height or mass, whereas exceeding Mach 1 depends upon speed of sound ie M = V/c (c = speed of sound) however speed of sound changes due to pressure and since there pressure is much less at an altitude of 128 km then the speed of sound is much greater than at sea level (where c is about 340 m/s) therefore to exceed Mach 1 and breakt he sound barrier, Felix must reach and exceed the speed of 690 mph as this is the speed of sound at that altitude :) hope tht makes sense... oh and theres a lot of number crunching involved to figure it all out but yes he did break the sound barrier as he reached 833.9 mph