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article imageFelix Baumgartner aims to break speed of sound with own body

By KJ Mullins     Jan 23, 2010 in Science
Pilot Felix Baumgartner is hoping to do what has so far been impossible - break the speed of sound using his own body. He will do a freefall jump from at least 120,000 feet during a Red Bull Stratos mission that may break world records.
On Friday Baumgartner announced from New York that he hopes to ascend in a capsule lifted by a helium balloon to the upper reaches of the stratosphere to at least 120,000 feet and, protected by a full-pressure "space suit," launch a free fall jump that could exceed Mach 1.0 before pulling the chute to parachute back to Earth.
Data collected from the planned mission could establish new standards in aerospace safety and introduce what now seems improbable - human flight.
United States Air Force Colonel (Ret.) Joseph Kittinger introduced Baumgartner to the world during a press briefing in New York City on Friday. Kittinger launched a stratospheric jump from 102,800 feet that opened the door for space exploration in 1960, a record that has yet to be broken.
Along with Red Bull Stratos Medical Director Dr. Jonathan Clark and Technical Project Director Art Thompson the briefing gave an overview of the planned mission that has a target date in 2010 in North America.
"People have been trying to break my records for fifty years, and many have died in the attempt," Kittinger said. "But I believe that with our unique assets, an extraordinary mission team, the dedication of Red Bull, and Felix Baumgartner's outstanding skills, Red Bull Stratos will succeed."
Baumgartner is the first person to have flown across the English Channel using a carbon wing back in 2003.
"This is truly a step into the unknown. No one can accurately predict how the human body will react in the transition to supersonic speeds," said Baumgartner. "But we've got to find out. Future aerospace programs need a way for pilots and astronauts to bail out at high altitude in case of emergency."
The mission will be televised live. BBC is producing a 90-minute documentary, which will air exclusively in the US on the National Geographic Channel and be distributed globally to national broadcasters via BBC Worldwide.
Art Thompson  Technical Project Director for Red Bull Stratos  describes the anticipated research ou...
Art Thompson, Technical Project Director for Red Bull Stratos, describes the anticipated research outcomes from Felix Baumgartner's 2010 stratospheric jump during a press briefing in New York on Friday, January 22, 2010.
Red Bull Stratos
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