Parachuting from 120,000 feet

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This summer, BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner plans to finally jump out of a helium balloon floating more than 120,000 feet from the Earth. (I first posted about Baumgartner's plans back in 2010.) If he succeeds, he'll beat the longstanding record set in 1960 by Air Force colonel Joe Kittinger who we've posted about before here. Kittinger is part of Baumgartner's team for his leap of faith. From Air & Space (Jay Nemeth photo):

“Basically we want to instrument Felix just like he was an airplane,” says Jon Clark, a former NASA space shuttle crew surgeon and Stratos’ medical director. Baumgartner will be wearing a physiological monitoring system used by the U.S. military and adapted for the Stratos project. The instrument pack, worn on the jumper’s chest, will monitor his heart and respiratory rates and collect echocardiogram data. It also has an accelerometer, which will monitor whether Baumgartner’s body is spinning and if so, how fast. If he’s experiencing more than 3.5 Gs of rotational force, his stabilizing drogue chute will deploy automatically.

“We are doing stuff that’s been done before, if only by a few people,” says Clark. “But what we’re doing is capturing more information.”

Baumgartner’s team says that its primary aim is to advance the science of survival at extreme altitude, not just to break records or publicize (jump sponsor) Red Bull.

"The 120,000-Foot Leap"

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