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.
Dubbed the Red Bull Stratos and sponsored by the energy drink company, the jump will send Baumgartner to the stratosphere in a small space capsule, lifted by a helium-filled balloon. Once he reaches 120,000 feet after three hours of ascension, ground control will give him the "all clear" sign and he'll pop open the door and jump, as video cameras on the capsule and his suit record his descent. Within 35 seconds or so, Baumgartner will hit supersonic speeds and break the sound barrier. No one really knows what will happen at that point, but the scientists seem confident that he'll maintain consciousness. He will free fall for roughly six more minutes, pulling his chute at about 5,000 feet and coasting for 15 minutes back to solid ground.
Just what happens to his body as it goes from subsonic to supersonic and back to subsonic speed is of great interest to scientists, and so he'll be hooked up to an electrocardiogram monitor during the jump. He'll also be outfitted with accelerometers and GPS units to confirm his acceleration and speed, and from that the stress on his body. But that's pretty much it for gear—because he's wearing a pressurized suit filled with 100 percent oxygen, his crew is rightly wary of putting too many electronics and power sources in his suit that could accidentally set him on fire. Any data they collect will then be made public and turned over to the military and NASA.
The plan is to make the jump sometime in 2010. After they complete test jumps at 25,000, 60,000, and 90,000 feet, they'll watch the Doppler radar and wait for calm weather and then pick the launch location, which for now they can only say will be somewhere in North America. The goal is to drop Baumgartner near the launch site, but even with low wind conditions he could drift some 150 miles away.
But first they have to test all the gear to make sure that it will work as it transitions from the freezing, no-pressure environment at 120,000 feet to the extreme heat of the dive. It's the same as with any other flight test program, says Jonathan Clark, the team's medical director (whose work in high-altitude space jumps we profiled in 2007). "Only in this case, Felix Baumgartner is the aircraft."
Red Bull as put together this video, putting everything into perspective:
Seems like the science part of this could be done without an actual human.
Also there must be something missing in the description of the senario; he'll need to slow down below SS before entering the thicker part of the atmosphere (well before the 5000' parachute deployment). If nothing else the heat generated and transfered thru the suit would at the very least expand the O2 and overpressurize the suit.
He'll most likely deploy the canopy around 5000 meters. Joe Kittinger apparently deployed his at around 5500 meters. I'm pretty sure that Kittinger claimed to have broken the sound barrier, but I'm not sure that it was ever verified. For anyone who wants to get a glimpse as to what this might be like, look up the BBC video of Joe's jump... fun stuff.
He won't be the first to break the sound barrier, Joseph Kittinger did it in just a pressurized suit back in 1960...
"On August 16th, 1960, as a part of the Air Force research program (Project Excelsior), Air Force Capt. Joseph W. Kittinger Jr. stepped off a platform raised to 102,800 feet over Tularosa, New Mexico by a high-altitude balloon.
The Air Force program was designed to investigate the use of a parachute for escape from a space capsule or high-altitude aircraft. To survive the altitude Kittinger wore a pressure suit like those for astronauts.
After 4 minutes, 36 seconds of free fall Kittinger reached a speed of 714 mph (becoming the only human to break the sound barrier without being enclosed in a machine of any kind) and falling 84,700 feet before opening his parachute. He landed safely after 13 minutes, 45 seconds after jumping." - Useless Facts
The O2 will not expand because it is already pressurized to atmospheric pressure. So as he reenters the thicker air it will actually equalize pressure. The suit will be fighting expansion when he is high not when he is low.
He will also progressively slow down as he reenters the atmosphere. It isn't like a barrier that the air gets denser. It is a gradual change and as such he will gradually slow down. The greatest problem is the heat. Which was addressed.
come on popsci your letting your standards slip everyone knows he won't be the first!
I'm finding a top speed of 614 mph for Kittinger, not 714. Even when factoring in the lowest measured temperature and the associated change in the speed of sound, he would still have come up short(-94f works out to roughly 646mph if my math is correct).
Don't lambast writers if you aren't sure of the facts yourself.
Joseph Kittinger made 3 jumps from 74.7k ft to 108k ft we only have reliable seed data from the last one in which he use a drogue parachute for part of the flight and reached a maximum speed just under the speed of sound at 614 mph. He may have broken the sound barrier on one of the other two jumps but this cant be known for certain.
The 2 lower altitude jumps (Excelsior I and II, with III being the record setting jump) have NEVER been contested as being faster. The jump altitudes of 76,000 and 74,700 feet simply will not allow free falls of that speed. The higher wind resistance at the lower altitudes stops acceleration far too quickly.
if Baumgartner will jump riding a 1960 corvette he would be the first
Did any of you look at the video? He's doing it "with" Joe and Redbull. It's pretty obvious this is a first. He's going further and faster than Joe.
Beyond all of that - I kept reading this article thinking to myself...huh this could result in one big Wiley Coyote episode and the data they will find will be pretty messy. Unbelievable...I hope this is worth it. Best of luck to him...
Did they solve the problem of stabilizing the guy?
If I remember correctly, Kittinger went inconscious because his drogue didn't deploy or was too small and he went in an incontrolable spin. The fact that the air is so thin at this altitude makes it very hard to control your position, unlike in regular skydiving.
cause im freeeee.......free fallin.
So he will balloon to stratospheric heights like the deficit an then plummet at break neck speed like our economy.
Are you sure this test wasn't designed by politicians?
Wow. das ist ja der absolute Hammer! ich werde das in meinen Outdoor News auf jeden fall mal weiter verfolgen. Wünsche aber schon mal viel Glück und einen guten Flug!
The reason why Kittinger is credited with breaking the sound barrier, even though he was ONLY going 614 mph is because the speed of sound is not constant. At the altitude he jumped from, the air density was obviously quite lower and therefore the speed of sound was slower. He did it! Now, this fellow might be trying to go faster than mach 1 (which is a measured speed, not the speed of sound), and if he is successful, he'll be the first human being to do so without the aid of a machine.
Just a few comments on this,
One- When he does his original jump he would have to have some kind of wieghts on him to get up to speed fast enough.
Two- If he did not drop said wieghts when he hits the atmosphere he will become a pancake.
If it works great, but if he dies no surprise here.
"The O2 will not expand because it is already pressurized to atmospheric pressure. So as he reenters the thicker air it will actually equalize pressure. The suit will be fighting expansion when he is high not when he is low."
That's not right. 1)it won't be pressurized at atmospheric pressure - it would be too stiff at high altitude, 2)heat would increase the pressure in the suit, and 3) there wasn't any mention as to how they were dealing with the heat transfer.
Maybe these are taken care of but I would have like to hear those details. I guess minimizing initial pressure (aren't the spacewalkers suits at 8psi or less) and having a relief value pop off would be the way to go but again these are the details of interest.
For air, pressure is not really a factor in the speed of sound, at least not in the range we're dealing with. Change in temperature is a factor, but I covered that in an earlier post.
Please read my previous comment: The speed of sound at higher altitudes is slower than at lower altitudes due to air density. So, the speed of sound at the height of Kittinger was much slower than at the heights most mach+ planes fly (near atmospheric for Kittinger). From the book I read, he actually created a sonic boom. Amazing stuff.
Oh yeah, the pressurized suit he was wearing, it broke on his hand and his hand became swollen to the size of a grapefruit!
Seriously? Weights? In near zero atmosphere at that...
"I think that if we can break the speed of sound, and stay alive, I think thats a benefit for future space explorations"
because having astronauts free fall 120,000 feet is DEFINATELY a good idea..
Density of air is a function of pressure, temperature and the specific gas constant. I acknowledged that temperature made a difference, and the equation for the speed of sound in an ideal gas(Air is close enough) shows that pressure has no effect. When you do the math, 614 doesn't cut it. I'm not even factoring in the different composition of the atmosphere at altitude (lower molecular weight on average) which would shift the speed of sound back up.
Another incredible fact. One more record for science. :)
the simple fact of the matter is this: At higher altitudes, the air density is less. This is why high altitude planes have to have such a big wingspan. Density makes a huge difference on the speed of sound. It's plain physics. Thicker density=faster transmission of sound. Less density=slower transmission of sound. The speed of sound at higher altitudes is slower than at lower altitudes as a result. So, Kittinger broke the sound barrier at his high altitude jump, even though he was not going Mach 1 (342 meters per second). Mach 1 is a constant speed that humans have defined. This idea of an ideal gas (air being close) doesn't make any sense.
If you want to perform an experiment for your self, one that's easy to do, that will SHOW you that density makes a difference on the speed of sound, go to your local pool (when the weather warms up) and have one person on one side and another on the opposite side. Talk to each other above water in a normal voice, even if you can't hear each other due to distance (boy that's a long pool if that's the case). Then go underwater and speak to each other in the same voice. You'll be able to tell the difference.
Sound is a vibration. Vibrations are directly related to density.
Wouldn't his terminal velocity stop him from going any faster than, well, his terminal velocity and make him unable to break the sound barrier? Plus when he opens his chute he'll just be jolted back and damage him.
he should land in an insane asylum!
Mach 1 is not constant. Mach number is a dimensionless number, a ratio of the speed of an object traveling through some medium to the speed of sound in that medium at the same conditions. As the conditions change so does the speed of sound.
Terminal velocity occurs when the force of gravity is balanced by the drag forces caused by air friction, which are depedent on the conditions of the air. Air is less dense at higher altitudes so Vterminal is higher.
Whether or not Joe broke the sound barrier, a new record will be set if this guy is successful.
Mach; "The ratio of speed of an object to the speed of sound in the medium concerned." Mach is not a set speed. This means Kittinger could have been going mach 1 on his jump(s). However; I don’t have the time or mathematical know-how to calculate whether or not he was, ill leave that up to one of you guys. But whether or not Joe or Felix will break the sound barrier Felix will still beat Joe’s record for highest freefall.
BTW, I hope everyone is aware of how crazy this is..
This makes me horny!!