UPDATE: BREAKING NEWS – Felix Baumgartner’s jump from an altitude of 128,097 feet succeeded. The Austrian lands safely near Roswell, New Mexico after a 4:19 minute free fall, reaching an unofficial speed of 1137 km/h.
The livestream has now completed – please see below for gifs, images and video of the amazing mission.
Baumgartner had been initially scheduled to launch on Tuesday night in Roswell, New Mexico, but the attempt was abandoned moments before the jump due to inclement weather and rescheduled for tonight.
With Red Bull’s delicate helium balloon needing winds of less than 4km/h to safely operate, gusty winds throughout the week prevented Baumgartner from making the jump, but still conditions are expected for Sunday.
As part of Red Bull’s Stratos mission to the edge of space, Felix Baumgartner will ascend for three hours in a stratospheric balloon to 120,000 ft or around 36.58km.
The Austrian will make a freefall jump to the earth, reaching supersonic speeds.
His supporting team of expert includes retired United States Air Force Colonel Joseph Kittinger, who holds three of the records Baumgartner is attempting to break.
Kittinger’s record jump from 102,800 ft in 1960 was during a time when no one knew if a human could survive a jump from the edge of space.
Kittinger was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and had already taken a balloon to 97,000 feet in Project ManHigh and survived a drogue mishap during a jump from 76,400 feet in Excelsior I.
Kittinger spoke of the experience a number of times, in this excerpt highlighting the seriousness of the attempt and the terrifying feeling of jumping beyond any drag caused by the atmosphere.
“… But when I was looking down at the earth, facing straight down at it, it was a very odd sensation; I was weightless, we will say, but I felt as if I were in a state of suspended animation. “What in the world is happening?” I’m sitting up here but I’m not falling.”
“That was the sensation I had. I had no acceleration, no movement, heard no noise, nothing. It was absolutely quiet, absolutely still, and absolutely horrifying”
Kittinger was spun during his fall, ripping around so quickly that he was unable to lift his arm to pull the rip cord, blacking out. His auto-chute saved him.
Baumgartner will be hoping for fine conditions to allow him to complete a mission that has taken five years of preparation, and current weather reports indicate that altitude winds will be in an acceptable range to allow the jump to occur between 7.30am (00:30 AEDT) and 8.30am (01:30 AEDT).
Jumping from the edge of space: