The term adrenaline-junky gets thrown around a lot these days, but there are few other ways to accurately describe Felix Baumgartner. That is, unless you're into talking about massive sets of balls. On October 8, the Red Bull-endorsed skydiver will attempt a record-smashing jump from 23 miles up, where he hopes to reach a speed of mach 1 through free fall. To top it off, Baumgartner has insisted that the whole thing be broadcast live via the Internet. Here's everything you need to know about the landmark event, and being a man.
1. Felix Baumgartner is a 43-Year-Old Austrian Native With Over 2,500 Parachute Jumps
It was in Austria that he first cut his adrenaline addicted chops doing jumps for the military. Part of this training was aimed at landing on small target zones, a skill that would serve him well later.
2. He's No Stranger to Firsts
Baumgartner holds the records for highest jump from a building, as well as the the lowest base jump of all time, which he achieved by jumping from the Christ Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. He also once flew across the English channel using a custom carbon fiber wing, becoming the first person to do so.
3. The October 8 Jump Will be from 23 Miles Up
That's the stratosphere, folks. With any luck Felix will be achieving the height using a specially made balloon and capsule system. Any single error in the suit or capsule could result in a host of almost certainly fatal consequences. For one, exposure to the air at that altitude would cause his blood to boil.
4. The Current Records for Height and Speed of Freefall are Held by the Equally Awesome Joseph Kittinger
Kittinger is a retired Air Force Colonel, and in his glory days he made a jump from over 19 miles up using a similar balloon-taxi method to the one Baumgartner will be using. Kittinger is acting as an adviser to Baumgartner and his team.
5. Baumgartner Has Already Done Test Jumps with His Equipment at Near-Record Heights and Speeds
One of the tests was done at a staggering 96,000 feet, which is still 24,000 feet shy of the planned October 8 jump.
6. Doctors and Engineers Have Spent the Last Five Years Preparing for the Jump
His suit is essentially a space suit, and the capsule looks remarkably similar to an old Apollo recovery vehicle. Except Baumgartner's ride isn't equipped with a parachute. If the sensitive helium balloon ruptures or otherwise fails, he'll plummet to the ground, likely without being able to blow the hatch and dive out because of the disorienting fall.
7. The Jump Will Be Broadcast Live, with No Feed Delay or Interference
Which means that people will be able to witness an amazing feat of human endurance and technology in real time ... or possibly a horrible, scream-filled, blood-boiling, lung-bursting accident. Either one is likely to move a lot of Red Bull.
8. The Ultimate Purpose of the Jump, other than Boosting Red Bull Sales, is Good Ol' Fashioned Science
Information gathered from the dive will be used to develop high-altitude bail-out equipment and methods for pilots. Or, as we at Heavy like to imagine, SEAL Team 6: Space Platoon.
9.He's More Quotable than You Are
Press-friendly and generally approachable, Baumgartner regularly makes statements like "I feel like a tiger that needs to get out." Or, "If I succeed, I will be the first person to break the sound barrier, alone. That will be a record for all eternity. As such, a piece of me will become immortal. That excites me." We believe you, Felix.
10. He's No Stranger to Statistics
Baumgartner knows that he's been pushing his luck for the last 25 years. He claims that if he pulls this jump off successfully, he's quitting while he's ahead and retiring ... kind of. He plans to settle down with his girlfriend and fly a rescue helicopter. That's not the sort of quiet life that most people think of when they speak about retirement, but after doing a nose dive from near outer space, most things probably seem pretty tame.
Good luck, Felix.
Check out a video of his previous 71,00 ft jump here.