Soaring through the stratosphere

The highest point on Earth is the summit of Mount Everest [wikipedia] at 8848 meters (29029 ft). The average cruising altitude of a commercial jet airplane is about a thousand meters higher at around 10000 m (≈33000 ft). On Monday, October 8th1 Tuesday, October 9th2 a date still to be determined3 Sunday, October 14th, Felix Baumgartner will step out of a specially designed capsule and freefall from over 37000 m (over 121000 ft). During his "Red Bull Stratos" jump, Felix will break quite a few records, including becoming the first person to pass the speed of sound (≈1200 km/hr) on a skydive.

In addition to the obvious awesome-factor, this event will hopefully aide in the advancement of space exploration. Felix will be wearing a "next generation" pressure suit, which might be useful to astronauts in future travels beyond our small planetary home. The detail of scientific data Felix's capsule and suit will gather will be helpful in the study of the atmosphere, spacecraft design, and the effects of such a "fall" on the human body.

As explained in this video [Red Bull Stratos], the whole event will be broadcast live by the Red Bull Stratos team in Roswell, New Mexico via 35 cameras. My appreciation of astronomy, high-adventure, and technology will certainly have me watching the broadcast with excitement. The path of our progress as a species was started with the single step of one person, a single step taken beyond the trail already made and supported by the people who walk by their side.

1 2012-10-06@07:00:00 MDT UPDATE: Mission postponed to 9 Oct, due to weather concerns.
2 2012-10-09@11:45:00 MDT UPDATE: Mission aborted during launch preparations due to wind conditions.
3 2012-10-09@13:00:00 MDT UPDATE: Next weather window appears to be 14 Oct.

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