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Idle Science

Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt 271

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-jump dept.
First time accepted submitter madcarrots writes "The Red Bull Stratos space jump is about to take place. The balloon is filling up and launch is expected around 10 AM MDT. Check out the live feed of the inflation process... it's beautiful!" After some delays it looks like the jump is finally going to happen. UPDATE: The jump was a success. Baumgartner is on the ground and apparently fine.
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Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

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  • Redbull (Score:5, Funny)

    by bobstreo (1320787) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:25PM (#41649933)

    Has identified the limits of server capacity.

    • Re:Redbull (Score:5, Informative)

      by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:30PM (#41649971)

      Before the server dies, here is the direct youtube link to the live feed - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrIxH6DToXQ [youtube.com]

      • by bungo (50628)

        At the moment, he's at 127,692 ft, higher than what was planned. When he was asked if he was ready to do the pre-jump check list, he didn't respond for a number of minutes and had to be asked by Joe K; a number of times.

        I wonder if there was something wrong, or just nerves, or too much 02.

        It looks like everything is ok now.

      • Press conference just started at 1:30 PST - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrIxH6DToXQ [youtube.com] . Just in case anyone is still following.

    • by hutsell (1228828)

      The Pilot during the simulated checklist sounded stressed -- worried about something; the operator at the control center has a little bit of unfocused goofiness.
      Hopefully all goes well and this isn't an indication of anything serious.

      • Re:Redbull (Score:5, Informative)

        by dtmos (447842) * on Sunday October 14, 2012 @01:02PM (#41650161)

        the operator at the control center has a little bit of unfocused goofiness.

        You mean Joe Kittenger [wikipedia.org], the man who holds the existing record, the man Felix trusts implicitly, and possesses the only voice that Felix wants to hear in his capsule?

        When you are old enough to need bifocals, you'll appreciate the difference between "unfocused goofiness" and just trying to see.

        • by hutsell (1228828)

          the operator at the control center has a little bit of unfocused goofiness.

          You mean Joe Kittenger [wikipedia.org], the man who holds the existing record, the man Felix trusts implicitly, and possesses the only voice that Felix wants to hear in his capsule?

          When you are old enough to need bifocals, you'll appreciate the difference between "unfocused goofiness" and just trying to see.

          Thanks for the clarification on the cause of his demeanor -- it wasn't meant to be an insult. In either case, it's comforting to know the observation was valid and not my imagination. Wearing trifocals myself, I can understand the problem -- especially when going back and forth between two or more glasses prior to the bifocal-trifocal solutions. I would occasionally hate myself for how unprofessional it looked to others while they waited for me to make my changes.

          • by hutsell (1228828)

            My experience has been to have it occasionally slow the decision making process. However, Kittinger's experience should be able to counter that problem.

            • Re:Redbull (Score:5, Insightful)

              by malakai (136531) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @02:29PM (#41650725) Journal

              Something was still off between those two on communications. I think Joe was trying to put him at ease, probably had direct view of his heart rate and other things we couldn't see. But I think Felix was having a fight or flight moment. I actually worried something with his suit pressure was wrong because he was acting like he had nitrogen narcosis ( or the equivalent at opposite extremes of pressure). He was slow to respond, and sometimes didn't respond or acknowledge at all. I can't help to think if this was a NASA or military exercise, they would have stopped the egress checklist and switched to a "is our pilot ok" checklist. It was painful to watch.

              • by networkz (27842)

                No mod points. I concur completely.

              • Re:Redbull (Score:5, Interesting)

                by bytesex (112972) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @03:08PM (#41651071) Homepage

                He was also in a pressure suit the severely limited his motion. Maybe he was just too busy to talk, trying to figure out how to get certain things done.

                • by Troed (102527)

                  Did you watch?

                  I'm quite convinced something wasn't right. It was not an isolated incident - more often than not Felix did not respond or did not seem to understand what was required of him. It took several attempts to start the egress checklist and I'm not convinced he secured the door (even though he confirmed it).

                  Also, he didn't confirm turning on the vest/helmet cameras and no shots from those were broadcast at all. Weren't they supposed to?

                  • He did not have full video downlink from the cameras on his suit, only on the capsule. Either they didn't want the extra weight of a downlink, battery and antenna system or they didn't want footage of spins etc going live. I suspect the former since weight would be an issue with a jump like this. We should see that footage in the director's cut.

              • Agreed, it did sound a little bit like the narcs, although there's a lot of other explanations, such as information overload, glitchy or unclear RT or even a pre-arranged "lack of communication" to up the suspense and provide a better spectacle, which at the end of the day provides more publicity for Red Bull who are paying for the thing at the end of the day. Baumgartner was certainly on top of things while going through the egress checklist practice run - he failed to respond a couple of times and was st
        • by boaworm (180781)

          the operator at the control center has a little bit of unfocused goofiness.

          I don't give much for the "control center"... If you look at the youtube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrIxH6DToXQ) (7 hours 53 minutes long), at 4:52:12, they will state the following:

          Altitude: 127861 ft/ 38972 meters
          Temperature outside: 19.1F / -6.1C

          Wtf?...

          • by pspahn (1175617)
            At one point just before his jump, the external temp reading was approaching 30F. I'm guessing it was simply because he was not really rising anymore, just kind of bobbing there, and the sensor had time to warm up. Same reason the thermometer on your back fence will hit 110F when it's still only 93F or so.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by ManicMechanic (238107)

              the temp was likely correct. the temp decreases with altitude only until you reach the tropopause. after that you are in the stratosphere and temperature rises with altitude. this jump was well above the tropopause.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:27PM (#41649949)

    FINALLY... A Slashdot posting that doesn't appear AFTER the event! :-)

  • Am I the only person for whom the video feed is broken?

    • by wbr1 (2538558)
      The feed is broken because someone lost the keys to the sound stage that the moon landing was filmed on.
    • by Grayhand (2610049)

      Am I the only person for whom the video feed is broken?

      That's just the dust cloud from his impact. It should clear up in a minute or two.

    • by JustOK (667959)

      Yes. You must have missed the part where he was abducted by aliens.

    • I can't see shit either. On my Nook Tablet I tried the Android Browser and FireFox and both came up with the "this device not supported" crap, and on this PC I'm just getting the spinny thing and then black screen or "An error occured. Please try again later.", but if I try later I won't fucking see it live!
      • I connected to a US VPN and as if by magic I can see the video (but it keeps buffering)... hmm are they limiting access or something?
  • Be patient (Score:5, Funny)

    by Grayhand (2610049) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:46PM (#41650071)
    They are holding up the video feed until they pry his hands off the safety rail.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hexydes (705837)
      Hah, I couldn't blame him. ;) For anyone who missed the live stream, here is the video of the jump. http://youtu.be/g4nJF9JFleI [youtu.be]
      • by Shoten (260439)

        Hah, I couldn't blame him. ;)

        For anyone who missed the live stream, here is the video of the jump.

        http://youtu.be/g4nJF9JFleI [youtu.be]

        Yeah, no kidding...going up higher than anyone has ever gone in a balloon, past the maximum height of any plane...and then opening this huge hatch in front of you to look outside into an environment with .03 PSI where you can actually see the curvature of the Earth a bit.

        And THEN, to climb OUT THAT HOLE and stand on a step the size of a skateboard, holding onto two handrails...and then just jump. Absolutely incredible.

  • Hydrogen? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @12:54PM (#41650107)

    Why don't they use Hydrogen for things like this (one-time use balloon) and preserve more Helium for scientific and medical use (and for safe party balloons)?

    Or is helium depletion no longer a pressing problem with the current natural gas boom?

    Hydrogen has been largely discredited as the root cause of the Hindenberg disaster, is it possible to use it safely in a high altitude research balloon?

    • by Splab (574204)

      Are you high or something? Or is scientific stuff only the stuff you approve of?

      • Re:Hydrogen? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hawguy (1600213) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @01:09PM (#41650217)

        Are you high or something? Or is scientific stuff only the stuff you approve of?

        Well, I'm more interested in the medical usage - about six months ago, my dad had to reschedule an MRI, the imaging center said that there was a shortage of helium needed to run the unit. He had a non-critical need for his MRI so rescheduling was not a problem, but I have to think that the 30 million cubic feet of helium that they are venting to the atmosphere in this thrill ride would keep a lot of MRI machines running.

        http://www.fiercemedicalimaging.com/story/helium-shortage-threatens-access-mri-services/2012-09-23 [fiercemedicalimaging.com]

    • Re:Hydrogen? (Score:4, Informative)

      by vlm (69642) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @01:16PM (#41650259)

      Why don't they use Hydrogen for things like this

      Aside from the obvious hair shirt trolling, you can talk to the ham radio guys who launch balloons with radio repeaters slung underneath them.

      You'd superficially think the very slightly lower weight of H2 would make H2 lift more than He, but after all manner of handwaving it turns out that very cold low pressure helium displaces more air at altitude. So 100 Liters of H2 and He at STP, hauled up 100Kft, supposedly that results in a slightly higher volume of He than H2. I honestly don't care enough to research it, but urban legend or no its an entertaining story. And you're not solving it with ideal gas laws (need non-ideal gas laws/tables)

      Because H2 comes from natgas and He comes from natgas the obvious next calculation is if the larger balloon outweighs (get it?) the advantage of cheaper filling.

      You could probably create a whole low level undergrad or maybe AP high school science lab out of determining if the first claim is true or made up and secondly which would overall as a system be cheaper aka less damaging to the environment.

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        You'd superficially think the very slightly lower weight of H2 would make H2 lift more than He, but after all manner of handwaving it turns out that very cold low pressure helium displaces more air at altitude.

        The density of H2 is about half that of He, though in air the buoyancy difference is around 8%.

        So 100 Liters of H2 and He at STP, hauled up 100Kft, supposedly that results in a slightly higher volume of He than H2. I honestly don't care enough to research it, but urban legend or no its an entertaining story. And you're not solving it with ideal gas laws (need non-ideal gas laws/tables)

        Do you have a reference for this? In school, we were taught that the ideal gas law works best at high temperatures and low pressures, even at -30C (240K), far from the boiling point of Hydrogen and Helium, it seems that the low pressure at high altitude would still enable the ideal gas law to provide a good approximation of the behavior of the gases.

        Because H2 comes from natgas and He comes from natgas the obvious next calculation is if the larger balloon outweighs (get it?) the advantage of cheaper filling.

        Since many sources are claiming that Helium is sold below its tru

    • by tinkerton (199273)

      Why don't they use Hydrogen for things like this (one-time use balloon) and preserve more Helium for scientific and medical use (and for safe party balloons)?

      I agree. It's a waste of a precious resource. Scientists have rung the alarm bell already on that one.

    • by khallow (566160)

      Why don't they use Hydrogen for things like this (one-time use balloon) and preserve more Helium for scientific and medical use (and for safe party balloons)?

      What's wrong with this usage of helium? And if helium were truly scarce, those scientific and medical uses would be recycling their helium.

  • Here is the direct URL to Youtube, in case the Red Bull Stratos site isn't working for people:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/redbull?v=MrIxH6DToXQ [youtube.com]

  • Does anyone else recall Felix Baumgartner telling mission control he felt no heating from his helmet?
    At that point, the audio was cut from the live stream while we could see the mission control discussing it.

    When audio came back about 30 seconds later, neither mission control nor the commentator even mentioned the incident.
    Just now, the commentator mentioned that they're "troubleshooting" the issue, not knowing if it was the senor not working or the heating actually not working.

    It's around 12C in the capsul

    • by Zocalo (252965)
      According to the live feed it's still being troubleshooted as at 94,000ft, so still no progress. Presumably there are other heaters on the suit that can keep him warm enough during the descent, so the only issue I could see would be if the lack of helmet heating might cause the helmet visor to mist up during descent. There is no talk about aborting the jump at all on the feed, so I'd guess it's not a critical issue.
    • by vlm (69642)

      It's around 12C in the capsule, but outside it would be -45C plus wind factor of several hundred km/h. If the heat in his helmet is really not working, I guess they probably will abort the jump?

      Well, here's someone who's never lived thru a Wisconsin blizzard. When the weather's like that up here, not only do we not have heated helmets, we have fat guys strip to the waste and body paint a big "G" on their belly to get their picture on TV during football games. Of course that takes about a six pack of beer and our parachutist probably doesn't have a keg up there, or if he does its full of red bull energy drink not Miller. A better comparison would be motorcyclists and everyone up here knows at le

      • by codepunk (167897)

        To be fair though I am not sure that my bunny fur bomber hat would fit inside of that helmet. I have however been snowmobiling at some amazingly cold temperatures -30+ F. As long as the skin is not directly exposed at those temps life is good. A small leak however or a few seconds of exposed skin and frostbite is immediate.

        When it is that cold though my first thought is to grab a ice auger, beer and go fishing.

    • by JustOK (667959)

      You could see fog forming inside the helmet with each breath

  • by malakai (136531) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @01:57PM (#41650539) Journal

    That was a bit akward. Not sure if it was a communication issue or nerves, but he was not responding to the request to begin the egress checklist and said something I couldn't hear that definitely didn't sound like confidence. Looks like he eventually pulled it together, and you could hear the relief in the communication managers voice.

  • by magic maverick (2615475) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @02:18PM (#41650641) Homepage Journal

    He's on the ground. It was a successful jump, and the first person has come up to him. It looks like he has the world record, I think it was more than 39 000 meters!

    Well done. But hell, bloody scary I'm sure. I'd love to do the parachute stage, but not the free fall.

  • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @02:25PM (#41650689)

    For it to be an official record, doesn't he need to do it twice, once in each direction?

  • "Baumgartner is ground, and apparently fine(ly)."

    I don't get it how this has anything to emergency bailouts from spacecrafts, as the commentator claimed. It's one thing to jump from a stationary balloon, a completely different thing to try to bail out from a vehicle flying in the Mach 5-25 range.

  • by sackbut (1922510) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @02:32PM (#41650743)
    Looks like for a while in free fall he was actually in a spin and admitted to passing out. You could see the flickering/tumbling of his image on the video feed from the ground. Managed to pull it out though.
  • The preliminary reports are that Baumgartner did not break the record for longest free fall. That record was (and evidently still is) held by Joe Kittinger, the man who previously held the record for highest jump and who was the only person allowed to talk directly to Baumgartner from mission control. Did Baumgartner do this on purpose? I seriously doubt it, but it is neat in a way that Kittinger gets to keep that record.
  • by hutsell (1228828) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @04:48PM (#41651703) Homepage

    Exit Height: 128,100 Feet
    Free Fall Time: 4 Minutes 20 Seconds
    Free Fall Distance: 119,846 Feet
    Free Fall Speed: 833.9 Miles Per Hour or Mach 1.24

  • by Penurious Penguin (2687307) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @08:40PM (#41653277) Homepage Journal

    "Austrian Felix Baumgartner has become the first skydiver to go faster than the speed of sound, reaching a maximum velocity of 833.9mph (1,342km/h)."

    It sure was something seeing the guy in space one minute, then less than 10 minutes later, seeing him gracefully land on his feet.

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