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Posted at 05:07 PM ET, 10/14/2012

Felix Baumgartner lands after flying faster than the speed of sound

5:04 p.m.: So, the YouTube feed has cut out, as attendees at the press conference have warned. So, with that, unfortunately, we have to end the live blog. We’ll be back with more tomorrow as news warrants. Thanks again for tuning in!

For those keeping score, Baumgartner, according to preliminary data, had an exit altitude of 128,100 ft, a free fall of 4 min 20 seconds. for a distance of 119,846 feet. Baumgartner achieved a maximum velocity of 373 meters per second, 833.9 miles per hour, faster than the speed of sound, or Mach 1.24.

5:00 p.m.: “I would love in forty years to sit at the same spot Joe Kittinger is sitting here,” said Baumgartner during the press conference.

“Well, records were meant to be broken, “ said Kittinger shortly thereafter asked for his reaction to his own record. “Better champions cannot be found than Felix Baumgartner.”

Kittinger, a retired Air Force colonel went on, delivering “a special one-finger salute to all the folks who said [Baumgartner] was going to come apart when he went supersonic: oohrah.”

Baumgartner said the most exciting moment was when he landed and saw the face of life support engineer Mike Todd’s face and the most beautiful was when he was standing above the Earth looking down.


In this handout photo, Pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria and Technical Project Director Art Thompson of the U.S. celebrate after Baumgartner successfully completed the final manned flight for Red Bull Stratos in Roswell, New Mexico in this October 14, 2012 handout photo. (HANDOUT - REUTERS)

4:56 p.m.: “This thing was almost blown out of proportion,” said Baumgartner of the mission, which was five years in the making. He went on to describe the egos and personalities involved, citing it as a reason why it was so hard to break Kittinger’s record to date.

The capsule landed 55 miles East of where Baumgartner landed.


Life support engineer Mike Todd of the U.S. and pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria celebrate after Baumgartner successfully completed the final manned flight for Red Bull Stratos in Roswell, New Mexico in this October 14, 2012 handout photo. (HANDOUT - REUTERS)
4:52 p.m.: “Usually when a doctor shows up to a press conference we’re having a bad day,” joked Johnathan Clark, the mission’s medical director. “It’s going to break incredible new ground,” said Clark of the data collected during Baumgartner’s mission.

4:49 p.m.: Baumgartner said that he felt as if he was in a flat spin at one point. “Well, I had a lot of pressure in my head. But I didn’t feel like was passing out,” said Baumgartner.

As for Felix’s records, they will be sent to Austria to be fully officiated. As of now, all records are preliminary.


Life support engineer Mike Todd of the U.S. and pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria celebrate after Baumgartner successfully completed the final manned flight for Red Bull Stratos in Roswell, New Mexico in this October 14, 2012 handout photo. (HANDOUT - REUTERS)
4:45 p.m.: Felix Baumgartner has traveled faster than the speed of sound, achieving Mach 1.24 — 833.9 miles per hour. He did so after falling from 128,120 feet 128,100 ft. above sea level. This means Baumgartner is the first human being to travel faster than the speed of sound without being inside a craft.

“It’s hard to describe because I didn’t feel it,” said Baumgartner when asked what it felt like to go that fast.Being in the suit, continued Baumgartner is “like being in a cast.”


A handout photograph released by Red Bull Stratos on Sunday showing pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria seen in a screen at mission control center in the capsule during the final manned flight for Red Bull Stratos in Roswell, New Mexico. (STEFAN AUFSCHAITER / RED BULL STRATOS / HANDOUT - EPA)

3:10 p.m.: We are still waiting for a time on the press conference. A Red Bull Stratos spokesperson could not confirm when it would take place or, for that matter, whether Felix was tweeting. Since the @RedBullStratos account isn’t using the handle @FelixBaumgart, it’s more than likely that he’s not behind the account. (Note 3:30 p.m.: Another spokesperson on site in New Mexico has just confirmed with me that Felix is not on Twitter and she appeared to not be aware of the fake @FelixBaumgart account, which now has over 100,000 followers.)

The live blog will be on hiatus until the press conference begins. In the meantime, thanks for following along here so far!

2:44 p.m. : Another record has reportedly been broken today. Mashable’s Zoe Fox writes via AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka that the live stream of Baumgartner’s jump received over 7.1 million views surpassing the 500,000 YouTube live stream views record for the London Summer Olympics. (h/t Michael Cavna)

2:30 p.m.: It now appears Baumgartner is NOT — repeat — NOT on Twitter. Thanks to Guardian’s @JonathanHaynes via our own @MrButterworth. Still waiting for official word from Red Bull myself, however.

2:28 p.m.: The live feed has gone silent for now, and my hands have stopped shaking, hopefully for good. A press conference is scheduled to begin shortly, according to the slate on the screen. I’ll be sticking with it until then. But tweet me your reactions.

2:22 p.m.: According to the indicators provided by the Stratos team, Baumgartner surpassed the speed of sound, but we’re still awaiting official confirmation.

2:19 p.m.: Unofficially Baumgartner has achieved a 4 minute and 22 second freefall, which does not break Kittinger’s record for elapsed time of a free fall, although Baumgartner has broken the record for the highest manned balloon jump. There has been no confirmation yet that Baumgartner achieved Mach 1.

2:18 p.m.: Baumgartner has landed safely with recovery crew nearby. The balloon has been cut from the capsule and is beginning its descent.

2:12 p.m.: Baumgartner says, “My visor is fogging up.” But his chute has successfully deployed as he approaches warmer temperatures.

“’Couldn’t have done it any better myself,” said Kittinger over the radio. Baumgartner’s mother, Ava, appears stunned and simultaneously elated with joyful tears in her eyes.


This picture provided by www.redbullcontentpool.com shows , pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria seen in a screen at mission control center in the capsule during the final manned flight for Red Bull Stratos in Roswell, New Mexico, on Sunday. (STEFAN AUFSCHNAITER - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
2:10 p.m.: Baumgartner has jumped and he is in a stable descent! Prior to jumping, Baumgartner said as part of a small speech that was difficult to make out, “I’m coming home.”

2:05 p.m.: The door is open and Felix is sliding forward preparing to jump.

2:02 p.m.: The inside cabin pressure continues to drop as Baumgartner prepares for his eventual exit. The door will open once the pressure in the capsule reaches that of the minimal air pressure outside the cabin.

1:57 p.m.: “Okay, we’re getting serious now, Felix,” says Kittinger as he instructs Baumgartner to depressurize the capsule. A loud hiss of air can be heard.

1:55 p.m.: Baumgartner is adjusting air supply valves and moving consoles in preparation to jump. He has just moved his seat “to the forward position.” The balloon is holding at about 127,800 ft.

1:49 p.m.: The egress check has begun, starting with the de-pressurization of the suit.

1:47 p.m.: The balloon is now large and spherical. A valve will be triggered to release some of the helium from the balloon and slow the ascent further. The balloon has now passed 127,000 ft. — more than 24 miles up.

1:44 p.m.: The team has decided that Baumgartner will jump even with reported problems to his heat visor. A landing with Baumgartner in the capsule was being considered.

It also appears the balloon, at just over 122,000 ft. has reached its maximum float.

1:42 p.m.: The balloon has now passed the target of 120,000 feet.

1:39 p.m.: The capsule’s ascent has slowed as the air gets thinner. The size of the balloon has changed significantly, expanding to near its maximum volume — 30 million cubic feet.

The projected height of the balloon’s float is now 125,000 ft.

1:32 p.m.: Baumgartner’s visor is down to protect his eyes from the glare of the sun and he has now broken the record for the highest manned balloon flight passing 114,000 ft.

1:30 p.m.: Baumgartner is on track to break the record for the highest manned balloon flight. The current record is113,740 ft.

1:28 p.m.: The face-plate heater issue continues to be a problem. The mission is still a “go” at two hours in and close to 110,000 ft.

1:24 p.m.: And we’re back with the feed. Whew. (Come on YouTube, hang in there.)

1:20 p.m.: The YouTube video feed has cut out for us and, according to YouTube’s counter over 4 million people are watching the feed live right now, which probably explains it.

According to the data on the team’s Web site, Baumgartner has passed 105,000 ft. It’s very likely we may not see this as it happens if the feed continues to present problems.

1:18 p.m.: Yep, it appears Baumgartner is, indeed, tweeting from the capsule (Note 2:45 p.m. Still working to confirm with Red Bull about this, although The Guardian’s Jonathan Haynes has tweeted that Red Bull’s public relations team has confirmed that Felix is not on Twitter. I spoke with Derrick Lerum at Red Bull Stratos, however, and he said he could neither confirm nor deny it.) :

1:14 p.m.: The temperature outside the capsule is starting to rise as it approaches the edge of space, and the capsule is expected to hit the 100,000 ft. mark shortly — 20,000 ft. shy of the target altitude. Baumgartner’s highest jump to date is at just over 97,000 feet.

The team is continuing to troubleshoot the faceplate heat mechanism.

1:06 p.m.: The capsule is now drifting West, back in the direction from which it was launched.

In the meantime, we have a few photos coming through:


This picture provided by www.redbullcontentpool.com shows Pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria stepping out of his trailer during the final manned flight for Red Bull Stratos in Roswell, New Mexico, USA on October 14, 2012. (BALAZS GARDI - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)


Felix Baumgartner of Austria stepping into the capsule during the final manned flight for Red Bull Stratos in Roswell, New Mexico, USA on October 14, 2012. (BALAZS GARDI - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The capsule and attached helium balloon carrying Felix Baumgartner lifts off as he attempts to break the speed of sound with his own body by jumping from a space capsule lifted by a helium balloon, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, in Roswell, N.M. (Ross Franklin - AP)


Felix Baumgartner's mother Ava Baumgartner, middle, watches with other family members and friends as his capsule lifts off. (Ross Franklin - AP)

1:04 p.m.: There appears to be an issue with the face plate heater, which is meant to prevent fogging and icing. A camera shot from underneath the capsule shows a pitch-black sky.

12:59 p.m.: Tweets are going out from Felix Baumgartner’s account. I’m trying to confirm if Baumgartner is, indeed, tweeting from the capsule, which is over 81,000 ft. up at this point.

There was some concern about the capsule drifting towards the East where the population begins to increase near the border with Texas. The capsule, however, is moving Southwest, according to the latest update from meteorologist Don Day.

Baumgartner is estimated to break the sound barrier at about 30 seconds into the jump, holding it for about 20 seconds.

12:44 p.m.: The capsule has passed the Armstrong Line and is continuing past 70,000 ft. The video feed has gone quiet for the time being as we wait for Baumgartner to hit the 120,000 ft. mark.

12:33 p.m.: The capsule is now well past 60,000 ft. and approaching the Armstrong Line at 63,000 ft., where the body’s fluids would begin to boil without the assistance of a pressurized capsule or suit. It is now 86 degrees below zero outside the capsule.

12:26 p.m.: Baumgartner and Kittinger are now running a simulation of the steps Baumgartner will need to go through in the lead-up to his jump. The capsule is now at 58,000 ft.

12:21 p.m.: Baumgartner is now in the stratosphere. Baumgartner is now approaching 54,000 ft. up.

12:17 p.m.: “Everything is in the green,” according to Baumgartner as he ascends past 51,000 ft.

12:11 p.m.: The capsule has successfully cleared the jet stream. The temperature continues to drop to -86 degrees outside, although it is being regulated around 55 degrees inside.

12:08 p.m.: If you’re wondering how big the balloon is relative to others, it is three times as large as the largest balloon ever to hoist a human being. The balloon has just passed 44,000 ft.

12:01 p.m.: The balloon is approaching the jet stream, which the team has clocked at 114 mph. The balloon and the capsule is picking up groundspeed, reaching 82 mph. The balloon has passed 36,000 ft.

The Federal Aviation Administration has a presence in mission control to monitor where the balloon is and make sure air traffic avoids the area.

11:57 a.m.: As the balloon continues to ascend past 31,000 ft., it’s becoming even more clear (not that greater clarity was needed) why Baumgartner wanted Kittinger’s voice, alone, in his ear. Kittinger communicates with continuous encouragement and calm tones.

11:52 a.m.: Kittinger is encouraging Baumgartner to stay hydrated and keep his oxygen levels up. Baumgartner is, at this point, more than 26,000 feet high.

11:47 a.m.: “We’ve practiced a lot,” said Baumgartner as he continues to ascend, “and now it’s paying off.”

The ascent is expected to take roughly 2 hours.

11:40 a.m.: Kittinger and Baumgartner are conducting a capsule check, including capsule altitude, cabin altitude, and oxygen levels.

11:38 a.m.: The capsule is now at 12,000 feet above sea level. Cameras capture the view from various angles around the capsule.

11:35 a.m.: The capsule has cleared the 4,000 ft. mark, bringing it out of a particularly dangerous zone. Baumgartner has instructed that only Kittinger be able to communicate with him while he is in the capsule.

Everything is, according to Kittinger’s radio feed, “green.”

11:33 a.m.:The capsule has been released but is still in a highly dangerous position as we wait for it to reach 4,000 ft. Baumgartner’s mother is crying with what appears to be joy as she watches her son ascend.

This marks the first time in history a balloon this large has been launched with a human being attached.

11:31 a.m.: The balloon is ascending into a clear, blue sky and the capsule has been released from the crane.

11:28 a.m.: The live feed (embedded above) has officially started with footage showing Baumgartner in the capsule and the inflated balloon. Up until now it has been a wide-shot with silence.

11:25 a.m.: Here’s the balloon fully inflated:

11:22 a.m.: The countdown clock has been adjusted down this time, with the launch time now estimated for 11:25 a.m. ET, according to the live feed.

11:15 a.m.: Balloon inflation is almost complete.

11:07 a.m.: Kittinger told Baumgartner, “We are going to get your goal and your dream accomplished Felix,” according to the latest tweet from the team account. Kittinger, as mentioned earlier, will be in direct communication with Baumgartner from mission control.

11:00 a.m.: The countdown clock is showing we’re at under an hour for launch. And, with the balloon being inflated now, conditions continue to look favorable for Baumgartner to make his ascent. Balloon inflation is estimated to take an hour and 15 minutes.

10:54 a.m.: The weather hold has been lifted and, in case you missed the video, here’s a photo of the balloon being inflated with helium:

10:48 a.m.: The balloon is now being inflated. The winds roughly 700 feet high still need to die down.

10:41 a.m.: The test balloons have been deployed and are showing wind direction at various altitudes. The estimated launch time has since moved back to 11:45 a.m. ET, according to the live video feed.

Meanwhile the team waits in mission control for the winds to die down.

In the meantime, the Stratos team has released this photo of Baumgartner from what appears to be earlier while he was still in the airstream trailer.

10:26 a.m.: The team is waiting for winds to clear before inflating the balloon, which is 550 ft. high when inflated. The plastic panels of the balloon, which are 0.0008 inches thick, could cover 40 acres if laid out flat — roughly the size of a football field. The balloon is filled with helium, which will be released into the atmosphere when it is deflated using a nylon “destruct line.”

10:15 a.m.: According to the latest update on the Red Bull Stratos site, the “team is optimistic for calm winds this morning,” and is “moving forward with preparations for launch.”

The previous record holder for the highest skydive, at 102,800 feet, Joe Kittinger, is a member of the Red Bull Stratos team. Kittinger has been inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, National Balloon Museum Hall of Fame and the National Skydiving Museum Hall of Fame. He is serving as “Capcom,” or capsule communications, maintaining radio contact directly with Baumgartner during his ascent. Baumgartner seeks to break Kittinger’s record and contribute to scientific discovery and the development of the next generation space suit.


In this Nov. 16, 1959, file photo, provided by the U.S. Air Force, Capt. Joseph Kittinger Jr., aerospace laboratory test director, sits in the open balloon gondola after his first parachute test jump for Project Excelsior at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, N.M. (Uncredited - AP)


In this Aug. 16, 1960, file photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, Col. Joe Kittinger steps off a balloon-supported gondola at an altitude of 102,800 feet. (Uncredited - AP)


In this photo U.S. Air Force Col. Joe Kittinger (ret.) embraces Felix Baumgartner. On Sunday Oct. 14, Baumgartner will attempt to break Kittinger’s record for the highest skydive and could potentially go supersonic, traveling faster than the speed of sound. (Predrag Vuckovic - AP)

10:03 a.m.: Baumgartner is currently going through the mission checklist with mission control.

9:55 a.m.: So, commenter “rw-c” asked what happens to the capsule after Baumgartner jumps. If all goes according to plan, the capsule will fall back to Earth as it has in previous test-flights. It is outfitted with crush-pads and a military cargo parachute. The capsule made a hard landing and was damaged after Baumgartner’s test jump from 97,145 ft. in July, according to the Stratos Web site. But it has since been repaired. PopSci’s Jennifer Bogo offers a great explanation of how the capsule will ascend and, ultimately, descend.

9:37 a.m.: We continue to wait for the 11 a.m. ET estimated launch time to arrive. In the meantime, if you haven’t yet, check out the mission timeline interactive, which outlines Baumgartner’s ascent, descent and landing. In total, it is estimated he will spend 15 to 20 minutes in the air — from the time he exits the capsule to when he lands. He will deploy his parachute at 5,000 feet.

9:29 a.m.: Baumgartner has entered the capsule and is continuing pre-breathing oxygen to remove nitrogen from his blood. Nitrogen could expand dangerously at the high altitude. The pre-breathing process takes approximately two hours.

The launch window is expected to open at roughly 11 a.m. ET now, according to the latest update from mission control.

9:05 a.m.: We now have picture on the live feed, but the Red Bull Stratos clock shows launch time as under an 1 hour and 30 minutes away. In the meantime Baumgartner is continuing with his pre-flight preparations. Wind at the top of the balloon is still too high to green-light the jump.

However, the view of the sunrise, as posted by the Stratos team via Twitter shows a beautiful, clear sky over Roswell.

8:44 a.m.: The clock currently shows that launch time is still just under two hours away with Baumgartner suited up and sitting in his airstream trailer. The live feed, however, appears to be starting shortly, at 9 a.m. ET.

The weather has to be ideal, as this video chronicling Baumgartner’s March 15 jump from 71, 580 feet points out:

If all goes well during this jump, the capsule will carry Baumgartner 120,000 feet. The entire trip from take-off to landing could take as long as 3 hours.

7:49 a.m.: A weather hold has been called for 30 minutes. Baumgartner has started the process of putting on his custom-made pressurized suit with the assistance of fellow team member Mike Todd.

If Baumgartner’s high-risk jump is successful, he will have, most notably, been the first person to skydive faster than the speed of sound. But, in total, the Austrian will have set four new records. He will also have jumped from the highest point, achieved the longest freefall and been the person carried highest by a balloon. The jump is being staged near Roswell, N.M.

As the Red Bull Stratos site notes, Baumgartner’s jump is being done from such a high altitude that he will need the pressurized suit to prevent adverse health effects, including boiling of the blood. National Geographic’s Nicholas Mott outlines the five biggest risks of Baumgartner’s jump.

As exciting as the prospect of Baumgartner’s jump is, the risks are very, very real.

7:10 a.m.: The mission team is laying out the balloon with roughly 2 hours and 19 minutes before the live feed is scheduled to begin.

6:47 a.m.: The countdown clock appears to have been pushed back with 2 hours and 40 minutes until the video feed is scheduled to go live. But skydiver Felix Baumgartner is on site going through his pre-flight checklist.

In the meantime, we’ve got the playlist to keep us occupied. Leave your suggestions in the comments or here and here. You can also ping me here @emikolawole.

Supersonic: The Playlist by Emi Kolawole on Grooveshark

And we’re back.

Felix Baumgartner is attempting his daredevil jump from the Earth’s stratosphere again, hoping to become the first skydiver to break the sound barrier.

The 23-mile jump, which involves a 30 million cubic foot helium balloon carrying Baumgartner in a 3,000-pound capsule, is scheduled for Sunday at 8:30 a.m. ET. Meteorologist Don Day predicted that the weather during that time window would be favorable for launch. Baumgartner has attempted twice to complete the jump, but weather conditions, which must be ideal, have failed to cooperate. The latest aborted attempt was Tuesday.

“That was a total disappointment, honestly,” said Baumgartner in a video posted online Wednesday. “I want to break the speed of sound no matter what it takes. I’m willing to go the extra mile.”

Should Baumgartner complete the jump Sunday, it will be an historic event to occur alongside another piece of flight history, as the Associated Press reports. On Oct. 14, 1947, Chuck Yeager became the first human being to travel faster than the speed of sound in the X-1 aircraft Yeager named the Glamorous Glennis (after his wife).

We’ll be following Baumgartner’s jump live today. Let us know what you think in the comments and on Twitter (@oninnovations) and Facebook.

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By  |  05:07 PM ET, 10/14/2012

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