Red Bull is sponsoring the Red Bull Stratos project, in which Austrian sky-diver and BASE jumper, Felix Baumgartner, will make a 120,000 foot (36,600m) jump from a capsule suspended from a balloon filled with helium from space. Baumgartner will be the first parachutist to break the sound barrier with his body during the Stratos project in the hopes of acquiring scientific data on next-generation full pressure suits. The project was introduced to the public in January of 2010, but on October 12 2010, ir was put on hold after Daniel Hogan filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court in Los Angeles claiming he had originated the idea of a parachute dive from the edge of space back in 2004 and accused Red Bull of stealing the idea from him. The lawsuit was resolved out of court in June 2011, and on February 5 2012, it was reported by The Daily Telegraph that the project would be resumed.
Baumgartner has since completed two test jumps, the first of which took place 71,581 feet (21,818m) above the Earth’s surface and resulted in three minutes and 43 seconds of free fall causing Baumgartner to reach speeds of more than 360 miles per hour (580 km/h) before opening his parachute. In total, the jump lasted eight minutes and eight seconds and Baumgartner became only the third person to safely parachute from a height of over 13.5 miles (21.7 km). The second test jump took place on July 25 2012 from 96,640 feet (29,460 m). It took Baumgartner about 90 minutes to reach the target altitude and his free fall was estimated to have lasted three minutes and 48 seconds before his parachutes were deployed. His top speed was an estimated 536 mph, said Brian Utley, an official observer on site. It’s a personal best for Baumgartner.
The current jump record is held by Joe Kittinger, a retired Air Force office who jumped from 31,500 m (35.5 km, 19.5 m, or 102,000 feet) in 1960. Kittinger is assisting Baumgartner in preparations for the jump. at different speeds through the atmosphere (as well as through different mediums), depending on atmospheric density and temperature. At higher altitudes, where the air is colder, sound travels more slowly.
Researchers with the Red Bull Stratos project anticipate Baumgartner could break the sound barrier at about 30,480 meters (100,000 feet) above sea level, in temperatures of -23 to -40 C (-10 to -40 F) where sound travels at about 1,110 kph (690 mph) or roughly 304 meters per second (1,000 feet per second). Now THAT, is like, whoa, fast.