Monday, October 15, 2012

3 World Records set in single jump.

Yesterday I was glued to the TV almost all day. Felix Baumgartner finally had his opportunity to go higher in his helium balloon than any man (or woman) had ever done. He would jump and fall, or dive, from 128,000 feet at speeds up to 729 mph. That is 39 mph faster than the speed of sound at that altitude. What made me so interested that I would sit there, cursing at the television when they would not show a live feed?
46 years ago, I found myself in a similar situation. We were flying at altitudes no man had ever achieved. Months of training had prepared us mentally for the task, but physically we had to wait until it actually occurred. We were told the good news, that the aircraft and its contained environment would make us save and comfortable. Although the space suits of the day were very cumbersome compared to that worn by Baumgartner. We were told what possible might happen to us if we had a malfunction and had to bail out and of course worst case scenario what would happen if we were shot down. Yesterday I received my answer. We could survive if our egress was successful and perhaps spend the rest of our lives in a foreign prison camp. In my book "Force of Fate" I go into more detail about the harshness of space at such an altitude.
If all that what is going on these days with the still flying WB-57F and the recent movement of the last one from Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona I can only speculate that much more is to come and NASA took a very close look at yesterday's events. The information gained will certainly benefit the WB-57F program but also future space launches by giving us the knowledge that we can still abort during assent and descend and survive.
People are chastising the government for not doing projects such as these and that the private sector is now doing more for space exploration than NASA. What is wrong with that? It costs the taxpayer less. People are still being employed by the companies who design and build these machines. Last, let me make it perfectly clear, Red Bull did not build anything for this mission. Their advertising fees payed for it and I thank them for having the foresight to do this. Just like we would not have NASCAR if it was not for the advertising.
Not to be forgotten , where in the world did this take place, here in our country using our men and women to provide the expertise. Yes Felix is Austrian and if we shared all of our endeavors with the rest of the civilized world we would be much further ahead.
For comparison I have inserted photos of the suit worn by NASA pilots and the photo of Baumgartner exiting the capsule.

Notice the curvature of the Earth behind him.
Note: Step down, pick up my soap box and head home to my friends, Koko, my Black Lab and Maggie, my Dingo.

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