...it was awesome.
Felix Baumgartner just parachuted from a balloon at an altitude of over 128,000 feet, breaking a record that was last set in 1960. It was freakin' awesome to see, I watched it live on The Discovery Channel.
As a kid, I saw grainy film from the previous record which was set by a USAF officer named Joe Kittinger. I found it kind of haunting, the image of a lone man standing at the opening of a balloon gondola at 102,800 feet and throwing himself into the uncertainty of the middle stratosphere.
That effort was made by the air force as a research project as part of the space program. Oddly enough, Joe Kittinger was part of today's effort - he served as the person who was in direct voice communication with Felix in the capsule as he climbed to jump altitude.
Today's effort appeared to be privately funded, primarily by Red Bull energy drink. It was a first rate operation, years of planning, development and training went into it. The mission appeared to be well supported, the cost must have been huge.
The result of the preparation and of mission support paid off with a nearly perfect result. It was truly amazing to see Baumgartner take the giant leap and then fall toward the ground. The miracle of modern telemetry and visual documentation made for incredible images.
Baumgartner was the right man for the job, he is an accomplished adventurer with experience in extreme parachuting and ballooning. This has to be the highlight of his extreme career. There were so many factors to overcome, 24 miles is a long way up. Low temperatures, minimal atmospheric pressure and a lack of oxygen all conspired to kill him, technology, training and skill overcame those risks.
I am sure even better video will become available as time passes, you can be sure that I will keep my eye out for it.
Until then, I can't help but wonder. What will Felix Baumgartner find to do next?
Thanks for reading,