Thursday, October 18, 2012

Felix Baumgartner

I used to fancy myself a novelist. One of the stories I outlined but never wrote was a murder mystery on a space elevator. A couple of the passengers were going to set the record for the highest sky dive and at some point their outfits would be used in an escape attempt. Either in an aerial chase scene or by getting rid of one so everyone would think the killer had escaped already.  It was inspired by a Star Trek: Voyager scene where the half Klingon woman was doing that on the holodeck. The skydiving in a space suit part came another step towards coming true when Felix Baumgartner took a flying leap from 24 miles up. He reached a top speed of 834 mph or about 1.24 time the speed of sound. From that altitude it took him only 4 minutes and 19 seconds.

I can see my house from here!
It wasn't known what would happen when a body reached the speed of sound outside of a vehicle.
The temperatures if the suit failed could freeze him to death.
The pressure is low enough that... well, the previous record holder's hand had swollen to twice it's normal size because it was partially exposed. So, bad things.
UV radiation at that altitude is 100,000x what it is on the surface. Luckily he wouldn't be spending much time up there.
As he falls, an uncontrolled spin could generate G-forces sufficient to force the blood to his hands and feet and cause major damage or death.

Any guess when Richard Branson makes his own attempt?

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