It's been 10 years since Felix Baumgartner did the (almost) impossible and jumped from the edge of space all the way down to Earth. Carried up by balloon to almost 39 kilometers (127,852.4 feet) high, Baumgartner then took the leap in a specially designed pressure suit and entered freefall before deploying a parachute to land safely back on the ground. A new documentary is now depicting Red Bull Stratos in all of its wildness on its 10-year anniversary.
The mission was a mixture of actual scientific research in understanding whether it was even possible, and perhaps the world’s greatest marketing stunt. However, after a worrying spin during freefall that almost saw Baumgartner unconscious, he touched down and Stratos set the world record for the highest freefall. Baumgartner also became the first person to break the sound barrier without any form of engine power.
Not only was the stunt successful in showing the human body can withstand such a freefall, but it has also influenced future systems.
“The effect that it had globally on education and on the next generation wanting to become aerospace or flight test engineers was huge,” said Red Bull Technical Project Director Art Thompson in a statement.
“Additionally, the life support system that we designed on the capsule we used that technology and data to change the configuration for life support for [high altitude jets including] the U-2.”
While it was successful, the jump was not without hiccups. Just moments after Baumgartner entered freefall, the skydiver slipped into a “death spin”, rapidly spinning horizontally as he accelerated to the speed of sound. Such a spin is among skydivers’ worst fears, as the forces pushing outwards can lead to rapid loss of consciousness and spells disaster for being able to pull the chute. During the live stream, the feed cut to the control room, fearing the worst.
Owing to Baumgartner’s wealth of experience, however, he managed to exit the spin and regain full control. Now, he is an aerobatic helicopter pilot, of which there are only a few in the world.
“We were a very ambitious group of people with a vision that we turned into reality. And after so many years of hard work, we were successful,” said Baumgartner.
“I really think we left a legacy, all of us, because everybody played an important part to turn Red Bull Stratos into a successful mission. And after 10 years, it's time to celebrate.”
A documentary based on the stunt, titled Space Jump, is now available on Red Bull TV.