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Supersonic Man

DRAWING BOARD 120,000 ft Supersonic Man 115,000 ft An Austrian skydiver plans to go where no bro has gone before BY JONAH OGLES 110,000 ft The air is thin at 120,000 feet. So thin that if Felix Baumgartner begins to tumble after he steps out of the pressurized capsule dangling from his helium balloon, he'll quickly reach 2.5 rotations per second. His blood will have only one place to escape the G-forces: "Out my eyeballs,"says the 41-year-old veteran BASE jumper. If his exit is clean, Baumgartner will freefall for five min- utes over an undisclosed location sometime this sum- 105,000 ft 100,000 ft mer and break four records, including becoming the first person to break the sound barrier-without the benefit of a cockpit-and live. The current human alti- tude record, 102,000 feet, was set by retired Air Force colonel Joe Kittinger in 1960. Baumgartner will be pri- vately funded by his sponsor Red Bull, and Kittinger, now 81, has signed on as an adviser for the stunt, which will also test a next-generation David Clark-designed pressure suit and emergency protocols for astronauts. Here's how it might go down. 95,000 ft 90,000 ft 85,000 ft 80,000 ft 1. Highest Manned Balloon Flight Baumgartner spends three hours in his eight-by- eleven-foot capsule while the 17,000-cubic-foot TK- MYLAR? balloon carries him to altitude. As he 75,000 ft 70,000 ft approaches 120,000 feet, he pressurizes his suit. THE RISK: If either the suit or the capsule fails to pres- surize, bubbles could form in Baumgartner's blood, causing his lungs to hemorrhage. 65,000 ft 2. Highest Freefall Some 23 miles up, Baumgartner opens the door of his capsule and carefully arcs into a headfirst free fall. THE RISK: At this altitude, the air isn't thick enough for Baumgartner to make in-flight corrections to prevent spinning, if he gets his angle wrong. 60,000 ft 55,000 ft 50,000 ft 3. Fastest Freefall Within 35 seconds, still above 100,000 feet, he'll reach the sound barrier, 690 mph, on the way to Mach 1.2. THE RISK: Baumgartner's head and shoul- ders will be at supersonic speed for a split second, while the rest of him is at subsonic or transonic 45,000 ft 40,000 ft speed. He could literally break apart. 4. Longest Freefall As Baumgartner enters denser air, he'll slow to TK mph. If anything goes wrong above his planned para- chute altitude of 5,000 feet, a small drogue chute will open to stabilize him. THE HYPE: It wouldn't be a Red Bull stunt if it weren't broadcast live on TV (channel TBD) and on the Web ( 35,000 ft 30,000 ft 25,000 ft 20,000 ft SPACE RACE Don't Call Him “Balloon Boy" Shortly after Baumgartner made public his planned sum- mer jump, in December, perennial wannabe space diver and retired French Air Force colonel Michel Fournier, 64, an- nounced that his third attempt at the four records would take place this May, over the plains of Saskatchewan. Fournier's last try, in May 2008, saw his balloon somehow detach from its capsule during inflation and sail away with- out him."We willgain this marvellous challenge if we dare to believe," Fournier wrote in December on his Web site, After having our hopes deflated over the course of two previous attempts, we don't dare believe. 15,000 ft 10,000 ft 5,000 ft Sea level 7 Outside Illustration by McKibillo

Supersonic Man

shared by MCKIBILLO on Aug 09
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Originally done for Outside magazine about Felix Baumgartner's record breaking high altitude sky diving attempt.


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