Friday, 4 May 2012

Attempt at the World Highest Skydive at 120,000 ft...

Is on for this August...

Project Excelsior 1960...

On August 16th 1960 USAF test pilot Joesph Kittinger stepped off a balloon gondola in the stratosphere - the edge of space at 102,800ft.  Just think about that for a minute..., that's like nearly 40 kilometres/24 miles up...
Free falling for 4 1/2 minutes, to open his main chute at 17,500 ft, and setting a highest ever free fall and parachute jump. which has still remained unchallenged to this day...

It was part of a 3 jump experiment to see how the human body could cope with a high altitude (edge of space) parachute. This was of course because of the approaching cold war and the high altitude U2 spy planes being developed.  The USAF needed a parachute system which would work in a near airless environment in the case of an emergency. It would later be developed into the first suits worn in space exploration by the USAF.
A 2 stage parachute system was successfully tried out in Project Excelsior with Kittinger being the living subject. Remember humans had only parachuted from around 60,000 feet so he was going where `no man had been before`.
Any failure with his suit that weighed his own weight would have resulted in instant death.
There was no computers then that could predict the results, only boffins doing maths with pen and pencil.
A pretty hardcore experiment i think, Proven by the fact that it still remains unbeaten to this day.
Why didn't we learn about stuff like this at school?,

Here's  info on project excelsior

Footage of that jump was used in the start of the video of one of my all time favourite songs `Dayvan Cowboy` by Scottish electronic duo Boards of Canada...

Over 40 years later and Joe Kittinger is now advising on a Red Bull sponsored attempt to break the High altitude free fall record.
Felix Baumgartner from Austria is to attempt a 120,000 ft free fall...


  1. Kittinger was a badass, no doubt. A true pioneer. And a bit of a hero of mine. I keep hoping his book will one day get a fresh print run.

    I love that BoC song and video too! :)

    This new attempt I'm not so convinced by, it's a publicity stunt for a disgusting energy drink. Even if Baumgartner beats Kittenger's record, the Red Bull jump will never match the spirit of Project Excelsior, a mission to further our scientific understanding and an important precursor for the US space program, rather than rot our gums with a drink that tastes of Wham! bars.

  2. Also the fact that Kittinger was doing the unknown in a suit untested was what has made his jumps of Progect Excelsior so amazing!,

    Need to do a post on John Stapp`s G force experimental sled runs too soon, another hero pushing the limits!