Breaking the sound barrier with a parachute

Breaking the sound barrier may seem like something that science has largely overcome and at first glance it may seem that exceeding 344 meters per second is not an important record to beat. The problem is that every time it is overcome, it is done on board a machine, like an airplane, for example. That for the first time a human being jumps almost 40 kilometers high and scope mach 1 overcoming a host of technical, medical and physiological challenges is exactly what he sets out to do Felix Baumgartner.

Felix Baumgartner is an Austrian already known worldwide for having crossed the English channel in free fall using a special fiber suit or for having twice broken the Guinness record for skydiving from a building, the first in the Petronas Towers and later in the Taipei 101. Now, with a team of Red Bull Stratos is preparing to make the first parachute jump from the stratosphere in an experiment that will also serve to gather important scientific information and collect data to develop safer aerospace suits for astronauts.

That a human being breaks the sound barrier with only his body is surprising in itself, but the whole process of ascending to 36,500 meters from where he will jump and come back down in one piece has a lot of it's much more complicated than it appears at first glance.

First there is the ascent itself. baumgartner He will do this in a pressurized helium balloon, once he has reached the desired height he will depressurize and jump equipped with a special suit. The temperature will be -50 degrees centigrade. One of the problems you will have to face is the well-known decompression syndrome, which many divers have to deal with when they ascend after being submerged several meters. At this height, the pressure is so low that air bubbles form in the blood and block the blood vessels.

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Similarly, when falling, skydivers control both their speed and position through arm and leg movements, thanks to the bulky suit they wear. baumgartner And at the speed he'll do it, it'll probably be too complicated for him, just one wrong move and it could cause him to randomly start spinning uncontrollably and not be able to stop until he hits floor.

It is not yet known exactly when the jump will take place, but it will surely be the center of attention for many people. As I said, besides the jump, this will allow us to study the physiological conditions of the human body in such an extreme situation and improve aerospace suits. If you have had the opportunity and they have assured you that the suit is 100% safe,would you jump?

Photo: wired

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