Felix Baumgartner Jump: Free Fall from Space is Most Courageous Feat in Years

Mike Shiekman@TheRealShiekFeatured ColumnistOctober 15, 2012

While many Americans were sitting on their couches watching NFL football, Felix Baumgartner was breaking the sound barrier.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Baumgartner, a daredevil of sorts from Austria, jumped out of a capsule 128,100 feet above ground in space. To put that into perspective, that’s four times the height of a flying commercial airline.

He landed after four minutes of free fall, but not before making the highest, fastest jump in history on Sunday afternoon.

On his way down, the Austrian reached the speed of 833.9 mph, also known as Mach 1.24, supplanting the speed of sound.

In terms of athletic, courageous feats, Baumgartner’s efforts have no equal. Sure, LeBron James got over the hump and won a championship, and Usain Bolt furthering his status of "Fastest Man Alive" is all fine and dandy, but this Austrian changed the boundaries of human flight.

Our attention was momentarily diverted, but this feat will likely soon be forgotten. It's a sad truth that the New York Daily News' Ralph Vacchiano touched on:

A man just jumped from outer space and landed safely back on our planet. ... And now back to our coverage of Tim Tebow.

— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN) October 14, 2012

The Red Bull Stratos mission surely had tons of risks besides the obvious concerns. If he had spun out of control, he would have lost consciousness and the ability to land safely.

There was not complete certainty as to how Baumgartner’s suit would react to traveling so fast in temperatures under zero degrees Fahrenheit.

Baumgartner was already making history by merely getting to where he would jump. In order to get up to his launching point, the Austrian had to take the highest manned air-balloon flight in history. He was supposed to stop and jump from 120,000 feet, but the balloon went higher than expected.

Not everything can go right—even for a mission that had been in development for five years. Under the careful watch of 70 engineers and scientists, Baumgartner took all that in and jumped.

The world has a new Evel Knievel. The jump itself baffles the mind, but Baumgartner’s unwavering courage does as well.

After he jumped out of his customized space station, he wasn’t thinking about his fate; he was worried about whether he’d break the world record (via The Telegraph):

When I was spinning the first 10, 20 seconds, I never thought I was going to lose my life but I was disappointed because I'm going to lose my record. I put seven years of my life into this.

Simply incredible.