American Morning

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May 17th, 2010
12:00 PM ET

Daredevil wants to jump from 23 miles

(CNN) – How's this for a free-fall: Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner is planning to jump from a balloon, 23 miles up. That would shatter a nearly 50 year world record.

This guy is no stranger to stunts and if he makes the jump, he'd break the sound barrier, falling at 690 miles per hour. So why does he want to do this? He joined us on Monday's American Morning to tell us why.


Filed under: You Have to See This
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Elliot Palmer

    OK, some basic calculations yield the following. First, at a height of 23 miles, the air pressure will be approximately 1,000 times less than at sea level. Interestingly the air temperature at this height is nearly the same as at sea level (this has to do with the make-up of the gases at different heights. The first 12 miles above sea level the temp and pressure decrease, then temp increases to the 31 mile mark above sea level, where its approx the same as sea level, then temp decreases again to the 55 mile mark, after that it increases exponentially (~e) with height. Whats important is that while this is happening air pressure is decreasing and, as I said, is approx 1,000 less dense than at sea level. At a height of 23 miles, after 30 sec of freefall (assuming approx 0 drag) he should be traveling nearly 1000 ft/sec or ~680 miles per hour, but because the air density is 1/1000th, his velocity will be much higher, while the speed of sound (which is dependent on temp and pressure) will be much lower than at sea level because of the lower pressure (= resistance to moving bodies whether they be sound waves or a solid body). As such, he is basically rigging the results, he'll be breaking a lower speed of sound, while traveling in an environment that allows him far greater speeds. My guess, he wont be able to maintain a missle type profile in the less dense air, loses stability and basically is ripped to pieces by centripetal forces. Should be fun to watch though....

    May 23, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  2. Brandt Ellenberg

    okay so if he is a daredevil... Why don't we just send him through a black hole and see if he comes back? cause it surely sounds like he is on a suicide mission.

    May 20, 2010 at 3:11 am |
  3. Frank Mondana

    Any falling body in a vacuum "falls" at the same rate as another. This is not "terminal velocity".

    He will reach the indicated speed, more or less. He is not going to be falling straight down.

    Put down the Pop-Sci and pick up "Physics for Dummies".

    May 18, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
  4. Joshua

    I think that was his point.

    May 18, 2010 at 2:25 pm |
  5. Floyd

    I wish him the best with his jump. Also I pray that he has a safe and succesful jump. We need some good news for a change!

    May 18, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
  6. Tbolt

    The most important factor affecting speed of sound in the atmosphere is generally temperature. Since temperature tends to decreases with altitude, so does the speed of sound. In the stratosphere, tho', the speed of sound tends to increase with height due to heating within the ozone layer. See Wikipedia.

    May 18, 2010 at 1:51 pm |
  7. Islander

    Quite a lot of misinformation above. The atmosphere gradually thins out as the altitude increses, and the speed of sound and the sound barrier change along with the air density. There is no 'fixed' speed of sound that applies at a wide variety of altitudes. (Who's got the formula?)

    May 18, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
  8. RCM

    Actually spped of sound decreases as altitude increases and temperature decreases. Abt 760 mph at sea level but only abt 660 mph at 35000 ft. May his fall be fast but his landing slow.

    May 18, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
  9. glenn jobe

    from personal experience a 28,000' HALO takes 2 air bottles for 10 to 20 min length, how big a tank for 120,000 ' free fall/

    May 18, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  10. Daniel

    If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

    May 18, 2010 at 11:25 am |
  11. Kevin

    I can't believe how uninformed some of you idiots appear to be. He can break the speed of sound at that altitude and air density. It has not been done before. Kitttinger was the fastest but did not break the sound barrier. Jim from Colorado, you are the dumbest of all. Must have voted for Obama as uninformed as you are.

    May 18, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  12. DC

    As long as he isn't using public funds for the jump ... go for it.

    May 18, 2010 at 9:13 am |
  13. reefdweller

    Dude no terminal velocity in a vacuum

    May 18, 2010 at 8:37 am |
  14. giz

    oh, and Jim, different objects have different terminal velocities, it's a mathematical equation, it has to do with frontal area versus mass, the only time two objects have the same terminal velocity is in a vaccum

    May 18, 2010 at 8:02 am |
  15. giz

    wow, my comment is awaiting moderation, and I have no clue why!

    May 18, 2010 at 7:59 am |
  16. giz

    Mac, you have it backwards, the speed of sound decreases at higher altitudes

    May 18, 2010 at 7:56 am |
  17. Jim in Colorado

    Nice try dude, but considering that space begins at 62 miles up and you're jumping from 23, terminal velocity of an object through the atmosphere is only 120 mph. Maybe you should go the distance and jump from space, but be sure to wear some asbestos, or aluminum foil, lots of it!!!

    May 18, 2010 at 1:11 am |
  18. Splatwell

    There has been a lot of hype, but no date.
    I have checked both the Red Bull wesite and the website for Felix. Both sites have a lot of information, but nothing mentioning a jump date.
    When is Felix jumping?
    And, how much of it will be visible to viewers in real time?

    May 17, 2010 at 8:51 pm |
  19. Vince

    It seems that Kittinger (now a retired AF Colonel) is advising Baumgartner in his attempt.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  20. Rick W

    Truly, this guy has drive, can we give him the tools to fix the gulf oil leak and have him dive to just under 5000 ft to do some real good to the planet?

    May 17, 2010 at 4:14 pm |
  21. Mac

    He will NOT be breaking the sound barrier. He may be going faster than the speed necessary to break the sound barrier at sea level. But, the speed of sound is a function of air density, hence his higher speed than at sea level. At higher altitudes, the air is less dense, so the speed necessary to break the sound barrier increases.

    May 17, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
  22. bailoutsos

    It's not the fall that kills you, it's that sudden stop at the end.

    May 17, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
  23. Jon Dodson 1SG Ret.

    It has been done before. Check the Guinness Book of World records. He will not be the first man to break the sound barrier with his body.

    May 17, 2010 at 1:48 pm |
  24. Rod in Texas

    I wonder if this guy has actually thought this out? I don't think the human body is designed for the speeds he will endure on his way down. One tiny mistake at 600+ miles/hour could break arms, necks, whatever. However, if he makes it... he will have a world record.

    May 17, 2010 at 1:12 pm |