Felix Baumgartner Space Jump a Prime Example of Human Ingenuity Meeting Insanity

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2012

TAIPEI, TAIWAN - DECEMBER 12: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY - NO SALES, NO ARCHIVING) In this handout provided by Euro-Newsroom, a 38-year-old Felix Baumgartner, Austrian base jumper, makes a jump off the world's tallest completed building, the 508-meter high Taipei 101 Tower, December 12, 2007 in Taipei,Taiwan.   (Photo by Joerg Mitter/Euro-Newsroom via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images

So Felix Baumgartner is going to jump from 120,000 feet from a balloon, attempt to be the first person ever to break the sound barrier without the protection of a craft and could possibly be falling toward Earth for seven minutes.

Holy schnikes, that's simultaneously awesome and terrifyingly crazy all at once. And not the first time it has been attempted. From Gina Sunseri of ABC:

This daredevil dive from near space is not a first—Baumgartner will be breaking a 52-year-old record, and he is smart enough to recruit the man who set the record, the legendary Colonel Joe Kittinger. On August 16, 1960 Kittinger jumped from a balloon at an altitude of 102,900 feet. He fell for almost five minutes before opening a parachute to slow his decent at 18,000 feet. He made history for the highest balloon ascent, the highest parachute jump and the fastest speed by a human being through the atmosphere.

On one hand, it is this pioneering spirit, bravery, innovation and curiosity to test the limits of man that is behind the spirit of human ingenuity and progress.

On the other hand, is this guy freaking crazy?

Do you know how many things could go wrong in this scenario?

It is dangerous. Every member of the team acknowledges the risks. Clark says he can tick them off in his sleep: extreme cold, the near-vacuum of space, temperature fluctuations, the risk of an uncontrolled flat spin, drogue chute failure, spacesuit puncture, life support systems failure.

Good grief.

Red Bull is sponsoring this jump, another in a long line of events they've sponsored that range from the wacky to the downright insane. The project is called Stratos, though they could do better.

Here's how:

Track Baumgartner's fall, constantly attempting to locate his landing spot (which I'm sure they are doing anyway). Locate a basketball hoop at the landing spot. As Baumgartner descends via his parachute and nears the ground, lob him a basketball and have him jump.

Call the project "Space Jam."


I certainly wish Baumgartner luck on his amazing, inspiring, terrifying and unbelievably dangerous jump from space. I'm glad it's not me jumping from 120,000 feet above the Earth.


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