Breaking the sound barrier
- By Richard Branson -
- Oct 14, 2012
Wishing the very best of luck to Felix Baumgartner today as he attempts to become the first human to break the sound barrier unaided by a vehicle.
He will jump out of a balloon above Roswell, New Mexico from a height of over 120,000ft, falling towards earth at nearly 700mph.
As a fellow keen thrill seeker it is easy to understand why Baumgartner is eager to take on the challenge. Doing something nobody has ever done before is a unique thrill.
This comes with huge dangers though. He will have to cope with air pressure less than two per cent of that at sea level for the 10 minute descent. Nevertheless, if anyone can do it then Baumgartner can. He is famous for jumping off skyscrapers, so at least we can be sure he isn’t afraid of heights!
Delighted to hear that Joe Kittinger is the principle advisor to this project. He has no ego and that is typical of him. Baumgartner is aiming to break the world records for the highest and fastest free fall currently held by Kittinger, who I've had the privilege of knowing over the last 40 years. He was incredibly supportive during our own balloon attempts across the Atlantic, Pacific and around the world.
He was the first to break the sound barrier by jumping from a balloon and passed out on the way down to Earth. He has held that record for over 53 years and did the challenge in his capacity as a captain in the US Air Force.
Interestingly, although these kinds of challenges are often led by adventurers or thrill seekers, by achieving things that have never been achieved before society can end up benefiting in many ways through the technology that is developed to achieve the challenge in the first place.
What has been your biggest thrill seeking challenge?
Image from Felix Baumgartner on Facebook
By Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group