Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Science Article Summary - 4

Science Article Summary - 4

Skydiver Felix Baumgartner seeks to break sound barrier

[1] “Dare-devil skydiver seeks record,” BBC, Jan. 2010.[Online]. Available: [Accessed Jan. 27, 2010].

Later this year Austrian Felix Baumgartner plans to try and break the highest parachute jump record which is currently held by American Joe Kittinger. It was over 50 years ago that Kittinger first broke the record, rising to a enormous 102,800 ft above the earth using a balloon. Baumgartner plans to do the job much the same way by using a 450ft high helium balloon attached to a pressurized chamber where he will reside during his journey. Although he plans to take the balloon to 120,000ft before he jumps, the task doesn't seem impossible as he has an extreme technological advantage over Kittinger. He will be completed suited with a pressurized suit and helmet in order to help his body to cope with the elements, but even with these safeties there are still many things to worry about at such heights. With such a long decent it has been calculated that Baumgartner will reach the speed of sound, something that no one else has ever done without the aid of a machine. This brings to light the problem of how his body will react at such speeds, including blacking out or going into a spin, both of which cannot be corrected at such heights.

As an outcome of this project, Baumgartner hopes that his decent will collect valuable data about the area above the stratosphere and information about how the body handles conditions at those altitudes. With such data, Baumgartner hopes that one day astronauts will be able to be saved when their space shuttles malfunction far above the earth.

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