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Austriandaredevil plansto jump out of,aballoongondola23miles above

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shockwaves,or hestaitsspinningio fist iji
brain'snaps
l-oose
fromits stem.
claustrophobic, and rcstrictive."There are
somehot spotson the shoulderl'hesays.He
meansplaceswhereihe suit is rubbiDg.
The techniciaNexchaDge gldnces-ihere
areD'isupposedio be aDyhot spots."But jt
PERRIS SKYVENTURE verticalwiDdtunel laurc\ rcentry, dd lddnE- the most dan- doesn'tmaiterl' Baugarin€r says,adding
is alrurricaDein acan- Inside the coreofa gerouspartsof a flight. Baurngannerwil wee thai the junp is only six mjnuieslong. He
cylindricalbuildirgthat looks like an air tlrc test suit to siay aliveduiu a " spacedive" shrugs.l'll getusedto itl'
traffic-control tower, air driv€Dby hugefans from 120,000feet or roughly2l ni1es. ofl
whooshesupwa.rdat 100-plus milesper hou. Thoughthat height 'rp, doe$'i ieclDiolly qual- BAUMCARTNER LEARNED aboutprecision
The tmDel probably istr'i the ialest building ify asspace-irue space,with lts almosi com skydiving ard aerobatjcson a special-forces
in Perris,California-a sprawlof mals dd plete absenceof air, stans at domd 02 miles paracbuieieam in the Austrid militaiy from
tract homesa coupleof hous eastof LosAr- up itb close.Atmospherjcpressureis less 1988to2002.A1996visit to BridgeDay,an
geles-but it feelsljke it. Nearthe top, two than a hudredth of what it is ai sealevel. dDuar BASE-jumpingeveDtin Westvirgnna,
setsof doom open onto the colum of wind. The jump is slatedfor late summeror fall sparkedapassioDforihis dceedinglydan-
Customers walkihroughthe doors,leaninlo jn an undisclosedlocale most Ukelyin New geroussPort.The &{SE tatality List on Splat-
the airastheyspreadtheir armsandlegs,od Merico that Red B'!l is treating like an ula.comis,asof lue 2010,ai 147deaths. I
arelified offtheir fe€t.ltb the sensaiionof atomic sec.et.Whereverand whenev€rit Totrjght\ scheduleincludesor yt5 Dinutes
free fall wiihout ihe danger or nsh: skydiv happens,it wil provide eDgiDeers with hard- oi "mediatime with lelixl aDdlater access
nrg with its balls reuoved.Il it's your first to-come-by information about the behavior wasdeDiedby RedBull,so I can't tel you as Kit
vjsit,astaffpersonhelpssteadyyolrincase of a falling body in a pressurizedsuit tu €x- much asI'd like aboutthe man iNide ihe suit.
you .Lift upward and puic or start bourirlg trehely thin ajr,alongwith dataon the cac - ls BaumgartDer the egotjsiical,publicity
off thelrallslikeanair-poppedkernel. tions ofthat bodyto umsonic md supereod. ibirsty "siunt-monkey"ihat critics on the l9(
Today is leLh Bamgetn€r's first visit to speeds.This js not information with everyday bloe BAsEjunp€r..on would baveyou be- rlt
Skyveriur€,but no one willbe holdingon practicalitr but someday if gov€rnneDt ljeve?lArnongother things, his detracto$ say
t!l
to him. Aphotogenic4t year oldAusiian, sponsoredspaceexploration takesoffin a big he falsely lays claim io the record ibr lowest
Bamgartner is a ligh-profile professional war as it would during a long ierm Ma6 BASEjump.) Or is he a talented,focused,
stuntman and BASEjumper. A,4SEis an mission,or ifconnnercblspaceiourhm ever career-sawf athl€i€who irlspir€sjealoLrsy
acrorryn for "buildings, aDieDnae,spans becomescommonplace thefliDctioDalityof dd sou grapes?I sawno evidenceof the for
tmeaningbridgesl,and earth tcliffsll' and suchsuits co'nd savelives. merdu ng my (admittedly limited)time with
Bamgartner hasparachuiedoff all of ihese Becausethere'ssolitileairrcsistanceinihe him, thoughBauhgdtnefs web preseDce is,
many times. You can go on YouTubeand atmosphere'suppd reaches,Bamgdiner js it nusi be said,fairly devoid of hmiliiy. The
waich him jump off the outsir€ichedright orpeciedio r€acbthe speedof sound-aroud Ielir tsaungariner wikipedia page ikis his B
am ofthe enormousChriststaiuein tuo de 690 miles per hour rather ihan jusi the Dickrameas"Godoftheskiesl'
t
Imeiro or, more prosaic.Iy, the rcof of ihe 120-mphterminalvelocityof a skydiverat From a purely visDalstandpoini,godlifre
2o-story warsawMariott. For nost of his iowe. altitude. No onehaseverbailed out in a isD'i too far off target.Baumgadnerrcs€n rcf
stuDts,Bamgatner weds a skydiver'sjup spaceAighi€mergeDcy,drd jt isn't clearhow bles a grittier, tubochdged Mdk wahlberg.
suit. ln the Marriott video,h€t dr€ssedin
businesscasual.He did this to passthrough
best to do it safely.Baumgadner'splungewilt To quoteaDhdustrial-producispamphletI
help fill in the knowledgegaps. saw not long ago,he has very good blilk and
h
the hotel lobby without arousiDgsuspicjon, Baumgartnersayshe'sproudof the con- edgelin€tougirDess. He'sin the wind tunnel
but asyou watch him walk to ihe edgeof the tributions he'll be naknrg b safer space now,holding himself facedoM in th€ classic
roof in his tie md .lressshirt, the impresion travel,buthe'smainlyinterested jnbrcakjng free fallposition.He reachesaroundto his
you get is tbat jumpingoffbuildings is, for rccods. The current skydiving aliitude rndk front to get a feel for the placementofihe
Baumgariner,just oother day on the job. is l02,800feet.Ittoowassetbyamantesiing ripcord.(He can't se€ii, be.auseihe space
survjval gear,in his casea parachutesyst€m. sdt prevenislih from bendingor tuning his
THISEVENING FINDSBaugartner dressed In 1960,in a projeci caled Excelsior,U-5. An neck.)Nen he siraightens hislegs,assessnrg
lik€ an astroDaut.He'sinPeds iraining for ForcecaptainJoeKittinger steppedout of an the sdt's flexibilty This addssurfaceareafor
his role in the RedBull SiratosMission,an open top steelgondolacdried by a helium the wind io pushagainst,andheshootsup ien
elaborate, expensive, and very risky proiect balloonandskydived,inapariiallypressur- feei mdtheDsiops,hoveringabove a group
sponsoredby the Austrian ene.gy-drink ized suit,19 milestoth€ ground.(Kjiijnger of onlookerslike a Macyt balloon. He dJops
company.The nission's aims are twofold is d adviseron the Skatosmission.) In tEn - doM again.Thenup, iheDdown,eachtime
p{i record-breakjng athleijcieat,part seri- scripts on file at the New Mexico Mus€u of siopping an inch or two shori of the webbing
ousscience.I'mherebecause l'm interested SpaceHistory nr Almogordo, Kitiinger says that formsthe windtmel"'floorl'
in ihe aeromedicalres€arch sideof thtugs. lrc brokethe soundbarier, but hewasn't car Ii.d Bull stratosiechnicalprojectdirccior oN
Duringthe Stratosjump,Baungartnerwil rying the necessaiyneasunE equipneni i. Arl T|ompsoncinges.Bamgdinerk chesi
test a rnoitified emergeDcyescapespacesuii makethe recordofficjal.ThusBaumgartD.r F..i .cntajns aDdray of deli.ate medical in-
desigDed by the Massachuseits-based David will probablyalsoentertherecordbooksrs st n' Jr. Laiion."Feli1!"Thompsonbdks into
' ing
ClarkCompaDy,makersof protectivesuitsfor the lirst human to redchsupersonicspeed his 'rolthpiece."waich the .hestpack!"
t€st pilois dd asironauissincethe earlydays wjthout beinginside a jet or spacecraJi. To g€i h position for ihe jump, Baugdt T
of jet fljghi and spaceer"loration. Starting in For now, Baurng&tDerjs sluhped in a low ne. will ascendin a custom desigDed, pres-
1986,when ih€ SpaceSluitr,e ChalbnEetex- chlir, sippingwaterduringamuch need€d suized capsule suspeDd€d b€lowa huge 30
ploded7l secondsafterliftotr, astronautshave break.Todayis ihe first inne heb worn the hillion cubicfeet helimbal]oon. (See"THs glas
beenrequiredtoweepressuiad,orTgen fed suit in wnrd-tunneltesting.He lookssweaty way DoMl' page65.) ODcelrejumpsout, his
suiis not only lrhile spacewelkingbui during aDduDdelighted.Pressuresuits are heavy, biggesiproblemwillbecontrollinghisbody's
position duing fiee falt, dE to the lack of air
molec'nestu ihe upper atmospbere.
To get a senseof the problem,imagine
holding you hmd in the rushing at outsidea
cd Mndow By anglingyou hdd io present
more or lesssuface to ihe wind, you co feel
obviousshjfts in direction md pressue. If the
carweretrareling 23miles up, you'd feetnone
of thai. without air to apply couterforce, it\
harder for skydive$ io stop a spin, and a
poorlydesignedsuit would makethe situa-
tion worse.Bamgartner wil needto free-fall
for about 30 secondsbefore he gainsenough
speedio generatetbe wind force rceded to
controlhis positioD-or to benefitfrom the
emergencystabilization chute herucdry.
The dangersof spiDningv'ere explaiDedto
me by retiredAir loice coloneland master
parachutisiDanFulghar!.Iulgham was]oe
Kittinger's backupbeforethe recod seiting
&celsior junp od is a veierm escape-sr€tem
testerfor the Ai! Forceand NASA.Duringa
196l test ofthe ejectionsystemfor a high-
altitude jet called ihe X-20 Dyna Soar,
Fulghm went into a flat, turntable spin and
expedencedcenirifugal forces so strong
that he coutdn't hold his armsio his chest

"It waslike I{as encasediD ironl'he said


in a telephone inteniew. His chute opened

rgartner'sWikiDediaDagelistshis nicknameas eds or noses-ihe teststueledlong-standing


rumorsihat the military wassecretlyrecover
dof thee skieSli ue ruuKs
pQ ,, r1e lo.o!-s
qellv.godlike inperson,
pret Ly P,O(lllKelll person, ing th€ bodiesofalieDswho hadcrashedin the
56'ctrareea vaik waliters. Toqu.ore scrublandsoutsideRoswel,New Mexico.
En rts pa$phlet
industrial-prodr:pfs
pqqrphlet sawnot long
I saw loig ago,
ago.he ghm On one occasion,the alienwas Do lul-
himself.Iulghu od Kittinger crashed
nas Vefy $OOd bUIk andedgelinetouglineis. one Satudaymorning in ls59 whenihejr bal-
loon cdne down in a field otr the outskirts of
automatically,but he still cme closeto dying. slower,more controlable tbree-dimensional Roswell.The 800-pound gondolahadbeen
Sensorsclockedhim spinning at 163revohL spnal. lf that doesn'twork during Baum- releasedtoo earlyand begu io tmble, com-
tions per mtuuie. rrweran somemonleys on gartner'sjup, the forcesofthe spin wil trig ing to a stop on lulgham's head.When he
tlrccentritugeatWright Pat, whereihe force ger the rcleaseof a stabiliziDg chute caled a took offhis heinei, his entire headswelledso
was outwdd on the head ai about r45 rpnl' alrogue.The choguewil plm his headupnghl severelythat Kittingerdescribedhis faceas
he said,refening to ihe ftighi-Patterson keephim iiorn spinnjng into a red out sce- "just a big blobl' Fulghamwas taten to the
AeroMedical LaboEtory, in Ohio. "The brain ndio, dd, one hopes,savehis rife. (Unlessit hospital at WalkerAir ForceBase,jn Roswell,
compressedenoughinio the top of the skull deplqs Femaiuely, winds aroud his neck, whjch was staffed nr pdt by civilios. I asked
that it separatedfrom the spinalcord.That ed chokeshim untii hepassesotrt, asJoeKit- him iJhe recallspeoplepointing md staring.
should havehappenedto mel' He also corld tinger's did in o Excelsior dress-rehedsal "I don't knowl'he said,"becausetheonly
luve died from "red ouil'wherein bloodis jump from 76,400 feet. Kittinger's main wy I could seewas to put my fingers up and
spm into the bnin with enoughforceio rup- chute,triggeredbyd altimet€r,openedauto
Art Thompsonthjnks the dummyreslrlts
Thereis no My, doM on edth, to simulate weremisleadingandthai high-altitude spin-
ONETHINCBAUMCARTNER MdthE S1TAIOSfiee fal in a ned va.trm. The Air Force,in the ning is unlikely to be a serious coDcen for
telm will chect out todayis whetherihe space 195osdd '60s, to try it by ftoppingan- Bamgariner I brought up Fulgham'sn€ar-
suit will allow him to get inio Foper "track- 'rsed
thropomorphicdmies oui of high-aliitude lethai spin and Kiitingers drogue-chuie
ng" postuie: aDgleddoMwdd wjth his tu"rns baloons. The resultswereworisome: lots of prcblem.Thohpson pointedoui that, back
exiendedfrom his sidesin a V Hgh-speedspiming md iurbling. On a side then, peopledjaln't skydivefor sport the way
The mechanicsare explainedio me by Dote,civiLids would sometimesbe passing they do now. "They weren't usedio ilrc ider
Ari Thompson,who is overseeing tonight's through the drop zone aDdlrcad ov€r to see ofconiroling bodyposition in flightj'he said.
tests. Thompsonusesa pair of folded rcading what was going on- Becauseihe project was "There'sbeensomuchadvancemenil'
glassesto demoNtrate. By shiftjng the center operatedin secrecyand the rccoveryteams Bui astronautsaren't skydive$. And while
ofrctatioD, the proper trackjng position cotr- behavedin a futiv€, scuryingmanner ad Baumgartnerwill begnrhjs descentat zero
verts a ijghi, level,tuntable spnrirto a larget becausethe dmies hadftrsedfingersdd no miles per hou, jmping from a balooD thatl
drifthg on air curents, a pelsot1ejecting lerel Fotecied him from the friction heat- likened them to the bow wves behlnd a
from a spacecraftduring reenhy vould be ing and windblast that wot d, at lower alti water-skier'sboat.At the placeswherethe
iravelingin the neighboftood of 12,000mph. tud€s, hddiv km a personmoving thai fast shoct waves interseci, the forces come to-
li's not a neighborhoodyou'd want to spend (wea!€r briefly blackedoui, but his chuie de getherviih savage,oiherwoddly intensity.
ployed automaticaly at l5,0OOfeei.) Colun- "lt basically fragnented them," Clark
bia wastEveling at Ddly Mach 17,but" giwn said."But not everyone.It wasvery location-
IONATHANCLARK,THERtrDBULLSITAIOS the negiigibledeDsiiyofih€ atmosphereai 40 specific. we had tbings thai i{ere recovered
MissioD medical dilector, is w€ll qudlified for miles up, the windblast was about ihe equiv_ completelyintactl'One sedchervho combed
his post. Clarkwasa high-arttude_parachute alent of a400 mph blast at sealevel lt pre- theColunbid's400 mile debrispath in Texas
specialistworking with the U.S.tlilitary's seDtedwhat Ari Thompson describes as a found atonometer,adevicethat measures
specialoperaiions.He'sbeena flight surgeon manageablerisk. "It's suwivable,"said Cldk. intraocular presue. "It workedl'
for NASA SpaceShuttlecrews,aDdhe was But the Cofunbio astronautsfacedcrueler Fo
ihreais tho windblast and thermal buns. pRoTEcTINGPEoPLE in theseconditionsis
involved in the iN€siiSation of the collift
bid, which disiniegratedoverTexasduring "we had somevery unusuarnljuy patterns a complicatedchalenge.Any spacecratt
rcenky in February2003,killing all seven that werenot explatuableby anythtugthat escapesystemworkswiih alimited range 13
asiroDauis onbodd. Clark'stemetamined we de accustomedtol'Ckrk said.(By"we" he of altitude and speed.Eieciion seats,for in-
ihe autopsyreports to determineat what meart flight sugeons: peopleaccustom€dto stance,work for ihe first eight to ten seconds
point the astromuis pe shed and how, and brainsspunoff their stemsudlimbs sDapped of launch,beforeQforce -the interplay of air
whether m)'thing cor d have been done to by windblasi.) "We know how people break density and speed-generated wind folce-
aparti' Cldk continued."They breakon joint builds io a lethal level.An eieciionsystem a tj
Cldk isn'i vith us in Penis. I met him more linesl' Like chjck€n.r,ike anlhing
than a yeal ago,up on Canada'sDwon Isldd, with bones. "But this wasn't like
in tlrc high Arctic, wherc NASA Pe orms thai. lt Ms like they werese!€red, t8 (
luarandMartiane:?edriionsimrationsaia bui ii wasn'i iiom somesiructure

A windblagofzsorqphwill blow an Oxygen


mask off vour face. et aoomph,it #illre-
moveahelmet- asit did to onepiiot whosevisorwas
blowr:openandactedlike-a,sail,qnSppipghis hegd
hissuitand breaKrngmS necK.
backagainst
sitecaled the HMP ResedchStatioD. Clarl cutting them up. And it couldn't
showedme a PowerPoiniaboutthe tectmolo_ have been a blast injury, because
giesihat air forcesdd spaceagenciesand, yotr haveto haved aLnosphereio
lately,private companieshaw come up with
to keepfliers andasironautsalivewhenihings As he talked, I waslooking at the
gowong. It alsoco\,€redthe things that hap_ Coiuf,bid patch. The seven crew
lenwhenthoseiechnologiesfail or,asClark members'lastlrmes werestitched
put ii, "a]I the things ihat cd kill l,?l' on the perimeteriMccooL RAMoNANDER- needsto quickly blast the astronautslar
We sat at his desk in the medical tent. No SONHUSBAND BROWNCLARKCHAWLA. enough asay io keep ihem fron smashing
one elsems arolnd. A wind turbine outside Cldk. Someibibgclickedin my head:When into the craft's appendagesor getting caDght
madeahaurted, drcning somd Atonepoint, I firsi arrived on Devonlsldd, l'd heardthai in the firebal of a catastrophjcexp]osion
without conuneDt,Clel handedme o STS- the spouseof one of the Columblaasbonauts To swive the exir€me speedand heat of
lo7 nussionpatch,like the onecolurnnia'sas nouldbe here.JonathanCldk, I now realized, rcentry is moreproblematicstiL Roscosmos,
tronautshad{orn. It seemedlike a goodtime was the husbdd of astronaut Lauel Clark, ihe Russianspaceagenct has tested proto
to askabouthisworkonthei €stiEaiion. who'd died. I didn't know whether to say tlpes of m iniatablecrew-escapepod called
I tnew fron reading a goverment docu- sonething, or wlut that someilitrg shouldbe. a banub (an amalgd of bdlloon and pal@-
meni cal]edthe "Colunbid CrN SurvivalID- The momeni passed,md Cldk kepi taling. ch1!te)-Heat shielding on the broad forward
vestigationReport"that the astronautsdidn'i The aimosphereat 40 miles up is too thin faceof the pod is desigredto protect the ter-
hav€thet visors doM when the crew com_ for blast wa\€s btrt not for shockwaves.The rified occupanis, and th€ lege surface area
pa ment lost pressure.I wonderedif they teamconchded, mostly though a processof createsthe dragneededto slowthe pod io a
might have suwived had their suits been elimination,ttEi it wd shockwavestint hlled speedat which a mdiisiage parachutesysiem
pressurized and they'dbeenequippedwith the colmbid astronauts.clark explainedihai could, jJ aI goesrell, lower it safelyto earth.
se]J-deployingpdachutes. iD high-speed brealGps, like ihose abo\€ But sucha systemhasneverllown all the way
The closestthing to aprecedentwas the Mach 5 five times the speedof somd, or from spac€to the ground,evenin tests.
crashof t€st pilot Bill weaver.on Jduary 25, about 3,400 mph an obscue phenomenon Alternaijvely, a peachuie colrld tower an
1966,Weaversurvivedwhenhis SR-7rBhck- caled shock-shockinteEction is thought to entire capsuleor crew cabin to the ground.
bird broke up dound him whne tmveling at comeinto ptay.When a reeDieringspacecralt (NASA'Snew Orion capsulenay be usedini-
Mach1.2-more ihanthree timesihe sPeed breaksapart, hunaLedsof pieces-none with tialy as an escapepod for the InternatioDal
of sound. His pressuresuii and the fact the caretuIy planned aerodyDamicsof the SpaceStation.) The chutewolndbeheary and
that he wasflynrgat 78,000 feet,wherethe intact craft - de flying at h]"€rsonic sPeeds, cosuyto launch- dd in ibe caseof tlrc Space
ai is about 2 perceni 6 denseasthe air at sea creatinga chaotic w€b of shockwaves.Cldk Shuttle, ihe processof separatingthe crew I
It1
compartmentfromtbe restofthe craftpre- lattena ndr identjfiedasJ.1.,hddsomeat bailotrts- mentions a casestudy fiom o avi-
sentsseriousteclrnicdchallenges. zerohph, appeanin a 27t-mph windblast aiion-industry interim repori whereiDan
while wele at ii, whatabouta moreobvi- with his lips blown agape,gums iD full view drme €jectedai noie than 600 mph. The
ous customerbaseiai.plarc passengersl Is like ar agitaied,braying coEl. windblast inflated Ns stomachlike a pool toy.
ark there a way to bail out salely from a jet that\ At 150mph, the cartilageofthe nos€de- In this uusual instance,it lrelpedthe md
abouitocrash?why, otbe.thanthe weight foms md the skin of the facestdis io fiutter. survive when he hit waier. ,,The estimated
andexpeDse, don'i airlinesoutfit everyseat "The wa!€sbeginat the corDersof thenouthi, ihreeliier of air in ihe siomachl'Siappwote,
witb a poriableoxygens'rpplyand a seat- the Aridfion Media e pape.e4lails, ,,and 'tubstiitrted for flotation gear which he was
backparachuie?For many r€asols,but the progressacrossthe faceat the rate of about in no conditioDto inflatel'
ronr on€sinvolve windblast aDdh,?oxia. l0O per secondto the €ar,wherethey breal<,
At the halfway point of the Beadort Wind causingiheeario wavel'Atfster speeds, this AT SUfERSONIC SpE.DS,yourbodywould
ForceScal€,air tEvels at lI mph.,,Umbrella Q force causesdeformaiionsthat can, as faceihekindsof Qforcesthaiusedto shak€
usebecomesdjfficultI' siatesthe Beaufort,a Ariotion Medi.inegingerlyphrasesii, ,,exceed jets io pieces.Iulghah has seenauiopsies
tad overdramatically. lte scaletops oui at the strengthof iissuel' ofpilotswhoejectedat600 plus.,,Ejeciion
7l+, the siarting ponlt for hurricaneforc€ Cruising spe€dfor a hanscoDtin€ntaljet is seatsback then had meial wings on ea.h
winds that ce reach190. That's about all the between t00 and600 mph.Ai ihat speed, you side of ihe head io keep it from flopping
blow Daturecan nust€L wherc the BeauJo cannoi bail out. irfaialjtyj' to quote Dar Ful- aroudl' hesajd.irwhenihey did autopsies,
leavesoffis wherewjndblaststudiesbegin. ghm, "is preity muchindicatedl'A windblast they foundthe brainshadjust beenemulsi-
Wnrdbiastis!'t weather.The air isn,t rushirg oi 2t0 mph wil blow e oxygenmast off your fied becauseof the trenendousvibrationof
at rou; tou'rc rufihg at it - havingbailedoui face.At 400 nph, windblasiwili rehove a the headbeiweenihosest€elplatesl,
or ejeciedfrom animperiled craft. trelm€i-as it did to Bill weaver,sSR 71co- That is why, wheneverth€y can,fighter pi,
Atthespeedofmostprivateploes lltto piloi. His visor was blown openand acted lots staywith a crippledjet until they cd slow
180mph ure efi€cts ofwindblast ar€mainly iike a sail, snappjnghis headback againstthe it down,reducingihe Qload. On this scole,
cosmet'c.Thecheeks de pressed flat against D€ckriDgof his suit dd breakinghis neck.At RedBUI hasamplecauseio be n€!rcls about
ihe skul, bestowing a taut, faceLiftedappeaF 500 mph, ',ramair" blastsdoM yourvind- Felix Baumg&tner. He could be vibraied to
mce. I know this both frornhideousphoto pipedih enoughforceto rupture elemenisof deathiDsidehis suit ashe approachesor su
graphs of me in ihe Skyvenhrc wiDd tunei yorr purmondysr€tem.A 1957pap€rby ihe passes the speedofsoud.
and frorn a 19,19Ariotion Medi.ire pape. on hteAn rorcecolonelIoiD PaolStapp apio As this storywent topress,BaumgartDer
th€ eifectsof high-velo.itywindblast.In ihe neeringer"ert oDsurvivalduing hjglr -speed had beendoing test junps from helicopters,
ard he'dalreadysulived one closecall.On
March2l ofthis year,unableto seethevd,
ious handleson the front ofhis spacesuit
becauseofl1jslimiied mobility,he cut away
the wrong chute. He jettisonedhis main
chuteinsteadof his dro$restabnizingchute.
He did hav€a resenechuie,but he couldn't
teli, by feel,the differencebetw€enits de-
ploymert and cuiawayhaDdl€s. (Thehan-
dles havesincebeenmodjfied.) Baugdtner
ilide of]20,00O feei, nE icrc lfetf,her
the suh or thetapsule hits to prssortre. beganio tug ai ihe cutawayhandle,which,
bubblescouldtom h 8a!figartneas had it activated,would haveleft him withoui
)ing bl@d,dlsing hls lunssto hemorrh:€e.
rght
ForiuDaielnthe releasewasriggedsothat
Some23 ml esup, Baumgartnerop€ns it wouldnot activatein thoseconditions.As
the doorof h s capsLe andcarefuyarcs
into a headnr$ fiee fal rHEnEk: At th s dsky as skydiving f.om extremely high alti-
\
attude,thearisn'tthlcke.oLghfor tude is, it's stil probabiyno riskier than
Baumgartnerto makeinjli8ht coiiec Baumgartnerkoiher occupatioD-jumping
LIed tions to pr€ventspin. ng,and the only
plac€for bloodto escapethe intens€ trom €xkemelylow aitjtude. If something
G-ftces would be olt my eyesl he uys startsto go wrong duringa spacedjve,you
havesix mjnutes to figure otrt how io rcmedy
With.35 secon.ls,atarolnd100,000 it. On a BASEjMp, you barely havesix sec-
f€et he reachthesoundbarer.690 onds md no reservechute.
h esp€rrrolao. the wayto Machr 2
frERrskBaumgart.elsheadandshoul lr you askBaugdiner how he feelsaboui
dersw beatslpersonicspe€dforasp t the possibiliiy of someihiDggoingierribly
s€cond.whle hisbodyisslbsonicshock wrong,he'll giveyouthesiandarddaredevil
wavescould t€ra ! br€akhimapart.
shrug:"I codddie in my sleepl,Art Thomp
soDisD'twonjed abouihim.,,He\ gonnabe
a5 Balhgadner€ntersde.serai
heI slowtoaound160mpha.d ope. fine,"he told me in Penis.Let\ hopeso. o
hlschlteafterafve minurefteefal
ini- GEHyPET twouldntbe a RedBu MARYROACH'S NEWBOOK.FACKING FOR
stunt iiitwerent brcdcast liveon
TV (channeliBD)andontheW€b l,lARS:THECURIAUSSCIENCEOF LIFElN
THEYOID FRO[/WHICHTHISARTICLE
ISADAPTED_WILL BEPUBLSHEDN
AUGUSTBYWW NORTON & CO]VIPANY

Iilrslrdlion irj,McKibillo 'r .,i outdile 65

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