Austrian daredevil all set for 23-mile supersonic skydive

austrian daredevil all set for 23 mile supersonic skydive baumgartnerIf the average person on the street was told that on Tuesday morning they’d be jumping out of a capsule at a height of 120,000 feet (22.7 miles), sending their body hurtling towards Earth at record-breaking speed, they’d probably break into a cold sweat at the prospect, or worse, mess themselves.

Not so Felix Baumgartner. The Austrian daredevil wants to do it. In fact, he’s going to do it. Today.

The extraordinary leap, organized by Baumgartner and his Red Bull Stratos support team, has been five years in the planning.

The fearless 43-year-old skydiver completed a practice jump – from a mere 70,000 feet (13.2 miles) – back in March.

Very high and very fast

On Tuesday he’ll sail high above Roswell, New Mexico in a special pressurized capsule carried by a 750-foot-high helium balloon to a height more than three times that at which commercial airlines fly, a place so high he’ll be able to see the curvature of the planet.

Once he steps out of the capsule in his specially-designed pressurized suit – equipped with cameras to record the jump – he’ll accelerate to a speed of around 690mph (1,110km/h) within 40 seconds, breaking the speed of sound in the process, making him the first human ever to break the speed of sound without the use of a vehicle.

austrian daredevil all set for 23 mile supersonic skydive baumgartner suit

One of the most important parts of the mission is the leap. Baumgartner must make sure he steps out from the capsule precisely as planned or risk spinning out of control, which could result in him losing consciousness.

“It’s very important he gets into a delta position,” Baumgartner’s trainer, Luke Aikins, said. “This is hands at his side and his head low, ripping through the sky. This will be crucial to breaking the speed of sound and remaining stable.”

However, no one knows for sure what, if anything, will happen when Baumgartner breaks the speed of sound.

If all goes to plan, Baumgartner will open a parachute at around 5,000 feet to bring him safely back to Earth.

Scientific research

Speaking to BBC radio about the jump, Art Thompson, the technical project director of Red Bull Stratos, said any records achieved during the leap were incidental. “The function of this entire program is from a scientific point of view,” Thompson said. “When you look at the accidents like with Columbia or Challenger, we believe that you’re actually capable of exiting a vehicle at high speed and capable of understanding how to control your descent.” NASA is reportedly in touch with the team and will be watching Baumgartner’s jump with great interest, along with the rest of us.

Weather permitting, the mission will begin at around 8.30am ET and will be streamed live on the Red Bull Stratos website here.

[Source: BBC]

Emerging Tech

This drone with hands looks like a nightmare straight out of Black Mirror

This unlikely drone-with-hands creation is the work of Federico Ciccarese, the brains behind YouBionic, a bionic hand project that has evolved far beyond its original brief. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

This crazy-looking robot uses microspines on its legs to climb up walls

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have built a bioinspired robot, which uses microspines on its feet to grip onto rough surfaces. This allows it to climb up very steep gradients. Check it out.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Florida’s autonomous vehicle law, E3 updates, and more

On this episode of DT Live, we take a look at the biggest trending stories in tech, including Florida allowing fully autonomous vehicles on the road, Atari’s new gaming system, E3 updates, high-speed rail, and more.
Emerging Tech

Got $400 million to burn? The world’s largest airplane is up for sale

Stratolaunch, the world's largest airplane, is up for sale. All it'll cost you is $400 million dollars. The brainchild of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the plane was supposed to make space travel more accessible and affordable.
Emerging Tech

Ex astris, scientia: Star Trek logo spotted on the surface of Mars

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been boldly going to Mars and capturing images since 2005, and now it has spotted something where no man has gone before: a structure on the planet's surface which will look familiar to Trekkies.
Emerging Tech

Adobe develops tool to identify Photoshopped images of faces

With deepfake videos making headlines, and campaigns against the Photoshopping of models, people are more aware than ever of the digital manipulation of images. Now Adobe wants to give tools to users to let them spot faked images.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Plant-based shoes and a ukulele learning aid

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will pave the way for manned missions to Mars

Survival on Mars is a massive challenge for humanity. To cope with the highly variable temperatures, lack of oxygen and water, and high levels of radiation, the Mars 2020 rover will carry instruments to pave the way for human exploration.
Emerging Tech

Facebook builds virtual homes to train A.I. agents in realistic environments

Researchers at Facebook have created Habitat, which is a platform that enables rapid training for A.I. agents. They will receive thousands of hours of training in just a few minutes in the virtual homes.
Emerging Tech

Impossible Foods struggles to keep up with Impossible Burger demand

Red Robin and White Castle have reported Impossible Burger shortages, as it appears that Impossible Foods is struggling to keep up with demand. The company will be selling its meat-like patties in retail outlets within the year.
Emerging Tech

Pass the salt please: Table salt found on Jupiter’s moon Europa

Astronomers have spotted something unexpectedly familiar on the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa -- sodium chloride, better known as table salt. This suggests the under-ice oceans on Europa are salty and similar to our oceans on Earth.
Emerging Tech

Hubble captures explosive galaxy, the site of three recent supernovae

Hubble's latest image is of the spiral galaxy NGC 4051 which is notable for having played host to a large number of supernovae: the first seen in 1983 (SN 1983I), the second in 2003 (SN 2003ie), and the most recent in 2010 (SN 2010br).
Emerging Tech

The grainy texture of Saturn’s rings reveals clues to their origins

New analysis of data from Cassini shows that Saturn's rings are not smooth, but rather are grainy in texture. Scientists believe that tiny moons within the rings cause materials to cluster and form clumps and straw-like patterns.
Emerging Tech

The Very Large Telescope gets upgrade to aid its hunt for habitable exoplanets

The Very Large Telescope is growing even bigger. The latest addition to the telescope's suite of instruments is a tool called NEAR (Near Earths in the AlphaCen Region) which will hunt for exoplanets in the nearby Alpha Centauri star…