Free fall jump breaks records and tops the news agenda
This week, Red Bull sent a man to the edge of space in a record-breaking freefall stunt. The Red Bull ‘Stratos’ project saw 43-year-old Felix Baumgartner fly to an altitude of 39,045 meters in order to carry out the death-defying jump.
Baumgartner’s stunt on Sunday led to Red Bull dominating the global news agenda as the jump generated over 127,000 online news stories and sent ‘Felix Baumgartner’ trending on Twitter. Thanks to a website developed by Bristol-based digital agency Rockpool, viewers around the world were able to watch a live stream of Baumgartner’s 4:20 minute freefall, in which he reached speeds of up to 1,342.8 km/h (834.4 mph).
The Red Bull brand has become associated with extreme sporting events, supporting the likes of the Red Bull Rampage mountain biking race, motor sports rallies, ski meets and more. But while the taurine-based drink already owns a strong association between the Red Bull Brand and adrenaline-pumping sports, Baumgartner’s jump has propelled the link beyond niche special interest groups into the consciousness of the general public.
The jump came exactly 65 years after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier flying in an experimental rocket-powered airplane. The 43-year-old Austrian skydiving expert also broke two other world records (highest freefall and highest manned balloon flight), but left the longest freefall to project mentor Col. Joe Kittinger.
Baumgartner deployed his parachute to land safely in the desert of New Mexico after jumping out of a space capsule at 39,045 meters. He plunged back towards earth, through the near vacuum of the stratosphere at the speeds mentioned above, before being slowed by the atmosphere.
Countless millions of people around the world watched his ascent and jump live on television broadcasts and via an internet stream. At one point during his freefall Baumgartner appeared to spin rapidly, but he quickly re-gained control and moments later opened his parachute as members of the ground crew cheered and viewers around the world heaved a sigh of relief.
"It was an incredible up and down today, just like it's been with the whole project," a relieved Baumgartner said. "First we got off with a beautiful launch and then we had a bit of drama with a power supply issue to my visor. The exit was perfect, but then I started spinning slowly. I thought I'd just spin a few times and that would be that, but then I started to speed up. It was really brutal at times. I thought for a few seconds that I'd lose consciousness. I didn't feel a sonic boom because I was so busy just trying to stabilize myself. We'll have to wait and see if we really broke the sound barrier. It was really a lot harder than I thought it was going to be."
Baumgartner and his team spent five years training and preparing for the mission, which is designed to improve our scientific understanding of how the body copes with the extreme conditions at the edge of space.
Baumgartner had endured several weather-related delays before finally lifting off on Sunday morning. The Red Bull Stratos crew, watching from Mission Control, broke out into spontaneous applause when the balloon lifted off.