UF alumnus serves on space-jump team

Col. Joe Kittinger set the freefall records that Mission Red Bull Stratos hopes to break.

University of Florida alumnus Joe Kittinger takes part in the Red Bull Stratos ProjectIn August 1960, UF alumnus Joe Kittinger flew in a balloon to the edge of space — and jumped.

The knowledge scientists gained during his 19-mile freefall helped NASA develop its spacesuits. He set world records for the highest-ever balloon ascent and the highest-ever parachute jump (102,800 feet for both), the longest freefall (more than four minutes), and the fastest speed reached by a human through the atmosphere (614 mph).

University of Florida alumnus Joe Kittinger takes part in testing for the Red Bull Stratos Project

UF alumnus Joe Kittinger (left) is helping Austrian Felix Baumgartner prepare for Red Bull Stratos, a mission to the edge of space to break the speed of sound in freefall. All images © Red Bull Media House


Now, more than 50 years later, Kittinger is part of a team that hopes to finally break his old record.

The Mission Red Bull Stratos plans to send Austrian base jumper Felix Baumgartner 120,000 feet up so he can again jump from the edge of space. Scientists plan to study the jump to study the effects of acceleration to supersonic velocity on the human body.

“Mankind’s physical limits will be newly defined on this mission,” states the project’s website, www.redbullstratos.com. “The team aims to achieve advancements in medical science and contribute to the understanding of survival in space.”

Although a date for the jump has not been released, the team reports it is in final preparations in Roswell, N.M.

Kittinger has been involved in the project since preparations started in 2005. The retired Air Force colonel has served as adviser on flight operations and safety, and as “Capcom 1” he will be Baumgartner’s primary radio contact during his ascent.

Learn more about Kittinger and the Stratos project, including its preparations and purpose, in a new YouTube video from Red Bull:

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