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Idle Science

Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt 271

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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  • 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]

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

    by Iskender ( 1040286 ) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @02:17PM (#41650635)

    Except that medical grade helium and the crap they fill party balloons with are two different things.

    Helium is an element. It won't break down, and actually due to being helium it won't even form compounds. The only problem is that it leaks into space, never to return.

    If helium is mixed up with other elements you can purify it. Compared to purifying gold ore it's probably child's play.

    The line about balloon helium being somehow different from important helium is actually the standard line of the balloon manufacturers. But it makes no scientific sense, so don't listen to it.

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

    by pnot ( 96038 ) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @02:18PM (#41650637)

    Except that medical grade helium and the crap they fill party balloons with are two different things.

    No, they're the same thing subjected to different degrees of refinement. Everything from balloon helium to the highest-grade purified lab helium come from the same limited sources.

    The volume of the Red Bull Stratos balloon is close to a cubic kilometre. Factoring in the practice jumps and aborted launches, I'd estimate that this project could easily be accounting for over 3% of US helium consumption this year.

    I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask why hydrogen is not a viable alternative. There are probably some good, valid answers to that question, but I don't think that yours is one of them. And we do need a longer, louder discussion of how helium usage should be prioritized: it's neither renewable nor (in many applications) substitutable.

  • by rochrist ( 844809 ) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @02:39PM (#41650811)
    The speed of sound varies with air pressure. At 100,000 ft, the SoS is actually 680mph.
  • You are a moron. Felix Baumgartner is an Austrian (you know, from Austria, in Europe). The company sponsoring the event, Red Bull, is also Austrian. So ah, I guess, fuck you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2012 @02:48PM (#41650885)

    Things like this are good to show your kids to demonstrate what a Real American can do with guts and determination and also to show them the indomitability of the American spirit and how we don't need to take any God damn shit from the Chinks, Japs, Eurotrash etc.

    If he had have died it would have additionally shown your kids that jumping off high things is very dangerous.

    So really it's win/win.

    Except he is Austrian.....

  • Re:Be patient (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hexydes ( 705837 ) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @02:57PM (#41650969)
    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 Megane ( 129182 ) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @03:08PM (#41651073) Homepage
    It is designed to cut from the balloon and land with its own parachute. Not only is there equipment in there that they need for every jump, it's his emergency return option. It wouldn't be the most comfortable landing, but it would be survivable.
  • Recording (Score:2, Informative)

    by Meneth ( 872868 ) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @03:20PM (#41651155)
    Did anyone record the live stream? Having missed the event itself, I'd like to watch it.
  • Re:Hydrogen? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xylantiel ( 177496 ) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @03:26PM (#41651201)
    My impression from the previous discussion on this was that helium shortage is a fictional crisis. Medical usages don't do helium recovery, which is where most of the loss occurs. Also the main source of helium - as a by-product of natural gas extraction - just vents most of it because its not worth capturing it. So complaining about "misuse" is nonsense. If one is really worried about a helium shortage one should be pushing for recovery in its biggest usage context and stockpiling. Neither of these are being discussed, so apparently this isn't actually serious.
  • Some numbers... (Score:1, Informative)

    by MobileC ( 83699 ) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @04:49PM (#41651717) Homepage

    39,045m Altitude
    36,500m freefall
    1342.8 km/h
    Mach 1.24

    Chuck Yeager did Mach 1.06 on the 14th October 1947.

    Andy Green did Mach 1.02 on the 15th October 1997.

  • Re:Redbull (Score:5, Informative)

    by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @04:59PM (#41651763)

    I'm certified as an Enriched Air diver and you are a bit confused. It's the partial pressure of Oxygen that will kill you. The safe limit we dive to is 1.6 atm partial pressure of O2. This means that you could breath pure O2 in about 20 ft of water. Below that it's toxic.
    In spacesuits they breath pure O2 at about 3-4 psi. The reason is if you put in other gases your mixed gas pressure will be too high and you can't move in a flexible suit. If you go too low you are in trouble too.

  • by Bomazi ( 1875554 ) on Sunday October 14, 2012 @06:22PM (#41652381)
    The speed of sound varies with temperature. The formula is 'c = 165.8 + 0.6 * T', with c in m/s and T in K. See this simulation [bayimg.com] of Baumgartner's jump.
  • Re:Hydrogen? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2012 @11:40PM (#41654293)

    My company makes use of quite a lot of helium. We produce instrumentation for materials science research. Our product line has shifted to systems with built in helium recovery because the cost of helium is now high enough for research facilities to demand it. I'd argue that the helium shortage is quite real.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.