The life-saving technology behind the daredevil's attempt to accomplish the longest free fall in history
By Steven KotlerPosted 04.25.2012 at 10:01 am 15 Comments
Sometime before the end of this year, skydiver Felix Baumgartner intends to climb into a capsule suspended beneath a helium balloon, rise 23 miles above Roswell, New Mexico, open the capsule door, and jump out. On the 120,000-foot free fall—the longest ever attempted—he will face temperatures as low as –70°F and speeds of more than 700 miles an hour, becoming the first person to accelerate through the sound barrier without a craft.
Anyone who has seen the grim images of a crumbling Detroit circulating the Internet, or watched another so-called “Sputnik moment” wander idly by with nothing but lip service from our leaders, may feel that we aren't exactly pushing boundaries like we used to. But in a beautiful eulogy for an era of bygone glory, the WSJ has hit upon a point that’s particularly sobering: for the first time in centuries, humanity is quite literally slowing down.
True to its aeronautic roots, NASA is evaluating a new generation of supersonic airplane designs to see whether they can reduce sonic-boom levels.
Boeing and Lockheed Martin have submitted futuristic concepts that look similar to the Concorde, but aim to muffle the annoying and potentially damaging sonic boom problem.
Here's Felix Baumgartner's plan: Float a balloon to 120,000 feet. Jump out. Break the sound barrier. Don't die. Simple, right?
If Baumgartner, a world famous base jumper and skydiver, pulls off the feat, he'll set the record for the world's highest jump and become the first person to break the sound barrier with his body alone. During the jump, he'll also collect data on how the human body reacts to a fall from such heights, which could be useful for planning orbital escape plans for future space tourists and astronauts.
Northrop’s versatile little F-5 jet fighter made a comeback in Vietnam; 40 years later, it’s being rediscovered again.
By Christina BryzaPosted 10.25.2004 at 1:45 pm 0 Comments
In March 1966, we wrote that the Northrop F-5 supersonic fighter (below) had been plucked from obscurity—it went straight from Air Force training grounds to the war in Vietnam. The F-5 had been developed a decade earlier to replace aging F-84s and F-86s in countries receiving U.S. military assistance; at home, though, it was eclipsed by “supersophisticated fighter-bombers” like the F-105 Thunderchief and F-4 Phantom. But the F-5s proved their worth when a squadron took flight in Vietnam.
With little fanfare, the race is on to build a Mach 2.0 private jet with a reduced sonic boom.
By Bill SweetmanPosted 01.16.2002 at 7:00 pm 2 Comments
When a Concorde jet on its way from Paris to New York crashed on July 25, 2000, killing all 109 people aboard and four on the ground, the event was not simply a tragedy -- it seemed a metaphor for the sorry state of supersonic air travel.