Red Bull Stratos and Ultra-HALO Tactics (Updated)

Felix landed safely at 1416 eastern time.  It appears that he broke the altitude record, missed the freefall record by just under 30 seconds, and reached supersonic airspeeds.

At this writing Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic space jump mission is underway.  (Turn your TVs to Discovery or follow online at the official Red Bull Stratos site.)

Baumgartner plans on exiting the capsule he ascended in at 120,000 feet and freefalling at supersonic speeds before opening his chute and safely landing on the ground.  Here’s how the Red Bull Stratos site describes the mission:

Red Bull Stratos, a mission to the edge of space, will attempt to transcend human limits that have existed for 50 years. Supported by a team of experts Felix Baumgartner plans to ascend to 120,000 feet in a stratospheric balloon and make a freefall jump rushing toward earth at supersonic speeds before parachuting to the ground. His attempt to dare atmospheric limits holds the potential to provide valuable medical and scientific research data for future pioneers.

The Red Bull Stratos team brings together the world’s leading minds in aerospace medicine, engineering, pressure suit development, capsule creation and balloon fabrication. It includes retired United States Air Force Colonel Joseph Kittinger, who holds three of the records Felix will strive to break.

Joe’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. Joe 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. The Excelsior III mission was his 33rd parachute jump.

Although researching extremes was part of the program’s goals, setting records wasn’t the mission’s purpose. Joe ascended in helium balloon launched from the back of a truck. He wore a pressurized suit on the way up in an open, unpressurized gondola. Scientific data captured from Joe’s jump was shared with U.S. research personnel for development of the space program. Today Felix and his specialized team hope to take what was learned from Joe’s jumps more than 50 years ago and press forward to test the edge of the human envelope.

(For those watching as it happens, Kittinger is the guy talking to Baumgartner from mission control.)

The Stratos mission brings a number of military applications to mind, most notably HALO missions from the edge of space.  Imagine today’s HALO ops — where special operators jump at, say, 30,000 feet — increased to 120,000 feet.  And imagine a SEAL team hurting toward an objective at supersonic speeds.  The longer glide path would let them jump over adjacent continents and zorch into hostile areas with vitually zero chance for detection from even the most sophisticated air defense systems.

In the meantime:  Godspeed and good luck, Felix.


  • JackBlack

    CONGRATULATIONS Felix, you make humanity proud!

  • blight_

    It was a comparatively quick four minute drop.

    I was hoping he would’ve brought a camera, perhaps attached to his suit. Oh well, it’s still pretty crazy…

  • Davidz

    “vitually zero chance for detection from even the most sophisticated air defense systems”
    I don’t think so, unless stealth technology can be applied to space suits.

  • Ben

    Halo ODST’s anybody?

  • Roy Smith

    Did anybody else think that the guy going over the checklist with him bore an uncanny resemblance to Harry Carey? All he needed to say next was “Holy Cow!”

  • BlackOwl18E

    That guy can claim badass status for life.

    • Nicky

      Feilix holds the title as one Badass dude for LIFE

    • Tiger

      Somebody Faster than Usain Bolt?

    • blight_

      Joe and Felix will have to share the stage of Epic Awesome.

      Felix is retiring, but Joe went on to fly over Vietnam and stayed at the Hanoi Hilton.

  • Dean

    Thrilling to watch.

    SEALS are not going to start jumping from 120,000 feet. This took perfect balloon launch conditions and winds have to be perfect. Not a military option. Also there is nothing new about jumping from higher than 30,000 feet, really just limited again by the aircraft limits. I doubt this demonstration alters HALO jump ceiling. What would change the game is if this guy bails out from a Virgin Galactic in LEO.

    • Jumper

      Also, nobody mentioned the incredible skill and experience level needed to keep stable during the jump and not tumbling into a spin with resulting black out/death.

  • Chris

    just remember he went from 120,000 ft to the ground in 4 minutes even the best radar defense systems that would detect the jumper would not have nearly enough time to investigate what the hell was going on much less direct someone to see what it was. I think the true question for possible military application is just how much distance can be covered horizontally from jump point to landing, and also how accurate a jumper could be.

  • Thomas L. Nielsen

    There are several videos out there of the actual jump, and every time I see on of them, right at the point where Baumgartner is about ot step off the capsule into (very) thin air, I can’t help but see this thought bubble coming from his helmet with the words “I should’ve gone to the bathroom before coming up here….” :-)

    Joking aside, a big “well done sir”, and excellent proof that The Right Stuff is still alive and kicking.

    Regards & all,

    Thomas L. Nielsen

    PS: Does anyone know if he shouted “GERONIMO”?

  • S Bailey

    He was at +128,000 when he jumped and hit 833.9 mph, or mach 1.24


    This guy has some big ones !

  • charlie G

    big ones? seriously the Q is how could his shoot hold his weight and the weight of his iron balls as well without failing.

  • Bob

    And he’s not even American …

  • Shakes

    There’s a sound financial motive for doing this jump as well: he well never have to buy himself a drink again.

  • Max

    I don’t know why, but it seems to me that this could offer another way to save the lives of astronauts in orbit who have no other way to come home. But perhaps being in orbit would mean they were going way to fast to risk this kind of jump. Necessity is the mother of invention, though; there may be a way to do it.

    • DangerClose

      Yeah, they’d just need to figure out the other 220 miles.

  • tiger

    Anybody notice he did this 65 years to the day Chuck Yeager took the X-1 into Mach 1?
    October 14, 1947.

  • Glarg

    I farted. In space.