The Man Who Fell To Earth

by Michael Walsh

Well, this is just cool, and on lots of levels:

Daredevil Felix Baumgartner this morning landed from his 18-mile dive back to Earth from the edge of space, in a plummet that reached a speed of more than 500 mph.

Mission Control gave the go ahead this morning for the launch, saying “God Speed Felix” from Roswell, N.M., where the mission is being hosted. Baumgartner, an Austrian national, was lifted in a capsule carried afloat by a huge helium balloon.

The balloon took 90 minutes to get to 90,000 feet. The crane holding the capsule went up as fast as it could to get the capsule under the 210-foot tall balloon as it rose. After he jumped, Baumgartner was in freefall for three minutes and 48 seconds . After five minutes, his parachute opened, at which point it took another seven to 10 minutes to descend to Earth. Baumgartner’s speed went from 0 to 536 in 25 seconds flat.

Gotta love the fact that the mission launched from Roswell – take that, little green men! And that it was sponsored by Red Bull

But wait — there’s more. This was just a warm-up for the really big show. From the Washington Post

“It has always been a dream of mine,” Baumgartner said in a statement following Wednesday’s feat. “Only one more step to go.” Longtime record-holder Joe Kittinger jumped from 102,800 feet — 19.5 miles — in 1960 for the Air Force. Kittinger monitored Wednesday’s dry run from a mini Mission Control in Roswell.

Read more about Colonel Kittinger, an unsung American hero, here.

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