2013: 11th of 13 Things I Want to Know: Could Superman Help Felix Baumgartner?

An Austrian skydiver broke the speed of sound in a jump from the ‘edge of space’ at 128,000 feet (~40km or ~24mi), as part of a Red Bull promotion, on Oct 14th, 2012, the 65th anniversary to Chuck Yeager’s record breaking that speed in flight. Can you imagine this? Breaking Mach 1 with your body. He was supersonic for about 30 seconds during the 4 minute free-falling part of his jump, reaching 1.25 Mach, then was slowed down by the drag of increasing air density. After 4:20 min. he deployed a parachute.

This wasn’t exactly where we define outer space to begin. Our atmosphere has 3 layers, and this altitude is at the higher part of the Stratosphere, the middle layer. The official edge-of-space is at 100km. Still, an out-of-this-world stunt.

Mount Everest Source: Wikimedia Commons

Mount Everest
Source: Wikimedia Commons

For comparison:

  • Regular skydivers jump from 4000-10,000 ft.
  • Mount Everest is about 29,000 ft tall.
  • Jet airliners always climb to above 18,000, and usually cruise at 30,000-39,000 ft, at the lower part of the Stratosphere. This is where the temperature is constant, so it’s above weather and turbulence conditions, and where air density is low so less drag and less fuel used. This is also at a quarter of the altitude of Felix’s jump!
SR-71 Blackbird Source: iliketowastemytime.com

SR-71 Blackbird


Regular aircraft can’t reach this high. The aircraft that came closest is Blackbird SR-71, the spy-plane that was designed to fly at Mach 3, at 85,000 ft. That isn’t high enough!


What about SpaceShipTwo? Virgin Galactic’s space plane can’t reach so high either.

Virgin Galactic SpaceShip2 gizmag.com

Virgin Galactic SpaceShip2

Space shuttles on the other hand, would be a slight overkill… They orbited at 200 miles and were decommissioned in July 2011. Baumgartner reached his jump point in capsule carried by a controlled helium balloon, wearing a pressurized suit. Others did that before, but this set the record also on the highest altitude for a manned balloon flight. His mentor for the mission was the previous record holder, Joseph Kittinger.

So I wonder, if he got in trouble in this jump could Superman help him?

Superman Returns

Superman Returns

The Superman character created in 1933, was given flight ability in 1940… his abilities increased until he could achieve spaceflight well before we could. This includes super-speed, as Superman was described as being faster than a speeding bullet.

Speeding Bullet Source: hd4desktop.com

Speeding Bullet
Source: hd4desktop.com

On the low range a bullet leaves the muzzle of a gun at about 120m/s = 432km/h, much slower than Felix’s fall, but modern rifles can produce speeds 10 times as fast. It would seem Superman could indeed catch up to Felix if necessary.

Felix in fact did get in trouble. About a minute into the fall he got into an uncontrollable spin, much as seen in the movie Gravity, where the frantically spinning astronaut is played by actress Sandra Bullock.  Felix managed to stop it without assistance, the mechanism by which he was able to get the situation under control is not clear. If he didn’t, this stunt might have resulted in his death.

I mentioned this story a couple months ago in a previous post discussing the Hyperloop – a proposal for a semi-vaccum operated bullet-fast Mach speed train. I come back to it fascinated with the concept of facing fear, especially fear of high speed. We got used to high velocity in our lives, such that has never been experienced by any living creature for millions of years, before humans started seeking it a couple centuries ago. We seek it for practical reasons, but also for recreation. No other organism is known to seek higher and higher speed recreationally. Running very fast was never our stronger side, and is not what helped our ancestors hunt or avoid getting hunted.

Speed Skiing epicski.com

Speed Skiing

Still people enjoy facing this fear, experiencing speeds doing things that often get them killed. Cyclists observe the monuments along their favorite routes, as they descend on their bikes at speeds exceeding 100 km/h; Speed skiers exceed 300 km/h on a pair of skis, wearing fire-proof suits; Those of us who don’t reach that speed still find ourselves occasionally with a scream in the back of our head, rushing to the front to come out… knowing full well how mortal we are, we come back the next day to the same slope. We admire those who can do it better and faster than everyone else; the snow-borders, roller-bladers, race-car drivers; the motorcycle racers, stunt pilots, test pilots; The sky-divers, BASE jumpers, and the Felix Baumgartners.

If there is an evolutionary advantage to this behavior, pushing the limits to experience this rush – I don’t know what it is.


About Kidmat Eden

Science/tech/space and sci-fi connections; the human experience in the 4th age.
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1 Response to 2013: 11th of 13 Things I Want to Know: Could Superman Help Felix Baumgartner?

  1. Scott M. A. Peterson says:

    Speed seems integral to time in that those who feel time is getting beyond them will rush like mad to catch up.
    Superman is an ideal of what the human form may become when it resolves the self doubt imparted from the moment of conception as emotionally charged waves, like sound, flood the egg and seed in the moment of lost lust. A lot of frustrations may be imparted as well as other what if type thinking going on in the lower consciousness.

    Being aware of the mortality of the form has caused humanity to rush faster than any beings but it has been doubt which is fear, based since the start. However, the rush has led to the abandonment of our kind’s recognition of how unique our species is.
    To say I am purebred human is no exaggeration. To say I am a being who, as no one is known to before, claim all that our kind has ever named as mine which is to say, human kind’s alone.

    We have a Human Moon, A human galaxy, a human universe and in fact, we claim life itself just because we said so.

    He who sees it first, names it first. Until such time as we are shown that another form of life named life itself, it in fact is ours alone. What we as beings, both individually and collectively, have seen in anyway, is human in that humans named it first.

    So that there was once a man of our kind who climbed so high just to try is the proof that indeed superman helped for the diver was a Super Man. He earned a name for himself that will transcend time itself. Of the trillions of billions of thousands of hundreds of tens of ones that had trod, the number of names that ring loud in 2014 of the hero and villains of all time is quite sadly insignificant in comparison. I say sadly in deference to those who allowed self doubt to stifle the mind in fear beyond taking care or being a ware to stay safe. Those who deemed to follow dream have been the food of dead minds for sadly all time. I see he or she decry the open mind honestly stated every time I open my eyes.

    He can’t do or she shant do or they could never do are constant songs heard sung from the lung of twisted child like minds. I have no vampire under my bed, I sleep content in my waking head and in repast, I sleep like the dead. I fear but I scare not.

    I wonder as a wanderer of minds why would human kind assume to be allowed out of the quarantine we’ve been placed into before our time arrived.
    We shall not of course until we settle all debts her first.
    The songs of pain spread through time as a wave, such as sound fundamentally is, pain draws negative energy like a magnet. This ought not come as surprise since all energy needs a grounding to connect the circuit.

    1 pure true exclamation by the billions of voices combined in song of to be alive, free from want to express free minds of all kinds is a spontaneous eruption of kindness for our own kind. Spontaneous combustion is of course the deduced alternative.

    As a minded mind, I share with you a piece of my mind and a slice of my time to stick my ideas into your mind as the word is sound once read no matter how silent, the sound is made in the head.
    All stars are born of the old that crumbled to dust in the finale throes. All are or were binary and our twin is coming home to roost.
    it’s seen in nature to be true to the uncaring eye to see.

    I wonder if you dare to find what comes this way from behind our sun that shines. I suspect there you will find 5 times the size a dead star’s body moving swift on a one track line to smack the back of our sun that shines dead center with ejection from the face ending all our race has dreamed in the blink of the eye.

    I have every reason to suspect the likeliness of this being true as highly probable when considering all that has gone before in the sector’s history.

    Hunger for the claim of fame the vanity of the jealous mind will be the fail safe mechanism to deny our kind spreading like a weed into regions where all share and share alike completely in free agreement alone. In essence, we would be that which spoils the soup as we are spoiled children in mind but with the toys to destroy far more than our own kind, with just one word.

    We could be said to be rushing our form out of work as we transfer the mind alone into the machines which we deem to depend upon yet adulterate the data every time it does not prove our decided minds correct.

    I assert that the instruments being seen to provide odd data is not anomaly but rather the result of history older than the under stand of man’s historical mind, coming back full circle in time.

    It could be that check out time is nigh but who wants to be the first to say, the party is over for good and keeps this time.

    It is of course, nature gives never more than 5 times for our kind to pass the test to advance to the next round. We have in our collective hands the Will Power to see E=mc2 as mc5 in fact with the E being the human will to see humane will be done.

    Of course, i am just a wordsmith, I know nothing at all about sounds and how they can dance the minds of millions into a frenzy of blood or love lust with just a formless finger.

    I do not ever argue, I debate. I do not lie, i deny the sight of pure truth in careful wording which cannot possibly ever be proven a lie.
    I offer no facts as they are best guesses made from new finds held to old.
    I tell stories of times alder than old, nothing more than brain farts from the mind of time, the creator of all sounds ever heard by any kind in any form of space/time. A word is life and with a word all in life can transform in time alone. Time is never ever late. Is it?


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