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Felix Baumgartner-The man who fell to EarthBaumgartner refers to himself as the “fastest man in the sky,” and the distinction is well-earned. In October of 2012, the Austrian stepped out from a custom-made space capsule 24 miles high and space dove toward terra firma, breaking the sound barrier along the way. As you might imagine, a free fall from the edge of space is not without significant risks. “I heard a lot of nightmare stories about flat spinning,” he told me. “Which, if it happens too fast, you’re facing too many RPMs; you cannot stop that spin anymore. And, at a certain point, the blood has only one way to leave your body and that’s through … your eyeballs. That means you’re gonna die.”

“I would not do it again because there’s nothing else to accomplish … The fact that it worked once, does not mean it will work again.”

As history and this interview reflect, Baumgartner not only survived, but he also broke several world records for the “longest, fastest and highest skydive in history.” The achievement seems a dubious and frivolous one until you take into account the wealth of valuable scientific research data that the Stratos project yielded — all of which the Red Bull Stratos team has made freely available. Not since US Air Force pilot Joe Kittinger took a similar jump in 1960 has any information on the physiological effects of a safe bailout from high altitude on the human body been made accessible to scientists.

felix CapsultOne other world record Baumgartner and his Red Bull Stratos team unintentionally broke was for YouTube. The space dive was streamed simultaneously by more than 8 million viewers. From the outset of the project’s planning, his team knew that they wanted to share the experience live with the world. To accomplish that, a custom “flying studio” was developed with a special cooling system to manage the cameras’ heat in the vacuum of space. Baumgartner also had a few GoPro cameras on-hand to record the dive, but he admits these were only there as a backup plan. The bulk of the communications equipment was housed within a large box mounted to his chest, while antennas for contact with ground control were laced into the pantlegs of his suit.

-Culled from Engadget

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