A decade ago, an Austrian pilot opened the door of his space capsule, perched on a little step outside, and jumped off.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Explorersweb.
Felix Baumgartner captured the world’s imagination by jumping from the edge of outer space all the way back to Earth in 2012.
And now, this historic stunt gets the documentary treatment with a new film released by Red Bull on Friday, October 14: “SPACE JUMP: How Red Bull Stratos Captured the World’s Attention.”
The project, called Red Bull Stratos, resulted in several firsts. Leaping almost beyond gravity in a custom suit, Baumgartner plunged toward Earth faster than the speed of sound. Before he took that leap of faith, no one knew if a human could survive breaking that barrier in freefall.
Baumgartner also set three world records, including Maximum Vertical Speed (1,357.6 kph, 843.6 mph/Mach 1.25), Highest Exit Jump Altitude (38,969.4 m, 127.852.4 ft), and Vertical Distance of Freefall (36,402.6 m, 119,431.1 ft.)
Millions of viewers around the globe tuned in for the special event, briefly turning the world’s attention back to space and its infinite possibilities.
A Stunt Like No Other
On October 14, 2012, Baumgartner launched from Roswell, New Mexico, ascending to the stratosphere in a helium balloon. All he had to do was step out of the pod and freefall all the way back down.
Fundamentally, what Baumgartner pulled off counts as a publicity stunt — but one with real stakes. It represented the culmination of years of work from many experts in space and engineering.
As the project’s leaders recount in the documentary, they were attempting something that had never been done before — and which could have lethal repercussions for Baumgartner if they made a mistake.
The specialized suit designed for the jump “continues to shape our world a decade later,” Red Bull said. Red Bull Stratos spent 5 years working on life support in space, ultimately creating a suit with improved mobility. It also created new protocols for protecting the lives of aviators exposed to high altitudes.
“We were a very ambitious group of people with a vision that we turned into reality,” Baumgartner says in the documentary. “And after so many years of hard work, we were successful. I really think we left a legacy, all of us, because everybody played an important part … and after 10 years, it’s time to celebrate.”
You can watch the full-length documentary now on Red Bull TV.