Felix Baumgartner’s Skydive From 23 Miles Delayed Due To High Winds
As thousands of viewers watched anxiously on streaming video, skydiver Fearless Felix Baumgartner’s attempt to jump into the record books from a height of 23 miles was delayed due to high winds. After rising at 2:00 am to begin preparations, and sitting in the gondola of his balloon for several hours, Baumgartner heard the voice of the mission controller Marle Hewitt come over the microphone to say, ” the attempt has been aborted for today.”
The jump is being sponsored by the Red Bull Stratos Skydiving Team. In addition to breaking the record for the highest skydive in history, Baumgartner hopes to be the first human being to break the sound barrier in a free-fall, reaching mach 1 before his speed begins to slow as he enters thicker atmosphere.
The team posted the following official statement about the postponement:
“Today, the launch of the Red Bull Stratos capsule had to be stopped at 11:42 a.m. local time in Roswell, New Mexico just before Felix Baumgartner’s giant 30 million cubic foot balloon had been fully inflated and made ready for take off. From early morning the team postponed the launch due to strong winds at 700 feet – the balloon’s top – waiting for the right weather window to open. The launch was scheduled for 11:40 a.m., the balloon inflation had begun, and then gusty winds picked up and made a launch impossible.”
Baumgartner is attempting to break the record of legendary pilot, balloonist and skydiver Joe Kittinger, who set the world record for high altitude jumping in 1960, when he stepped out of Excelsior III’s open gondola at an altitude of 102,800 feet and fell to earth in a free fall, reaching speeds of 614 miles per hour before finally opening his chute. Kittinger is part of Baumgartner’s Red Bull Stratos jump team, serving as Flight Operations And Safety, Capcom I.
Before Kittinger joined Baumgartner’s team, he served in the United States Air Force as a test pilot, Squadron Commander, and Vice Wing Commander. Joe Kittinger was shot down in combat during the Vietnam War and spent 11 months as a POW. After retiring from the military, Kittinger went on to set two world records for ballooning and won many ballooning competitions. Colonel Kittinger has logged more than 16,800 hours of flying time in over 93 different aircraft.
Baumgartner was born in Salzburg, Austria in 1969. He began skydiving at the age of 16 and eventually joined the the Austrian military’s crack skydiving demonstration and competition team. He is also a world renowned low altitude, BASE jumper (Bridge, Antenna, Skyscraper, Earth), using his lightning fast reflexes and extensive training to jump from heights that are often under 1000 feet.
As of now, the Red Bull team has not set a new time or day for the jump. Their weather experts will be watching their instruments closely, hoping for a safe window for the jump in the next few days. Meanwhile, Felix Baumgartner can only wait and reflect on his preparation for the jump: “On a mission like this, you need to be mentally fit and have total control over what you do, and I’m preparing very thoroughly.”