Felix Baumgartner, and Austrian skydiver, recently completed the highest free fall jump in history when he fell from the stratosphere, 24 miles above the Earth. His fall was also the fastest in history, as he reached a speed of almost 834 miles per hour, faster than the speed of sound. This was the first time a skydiver has ever broken the sound barrier, and scientists had to outfit Baumgartner with a special pressurized suit to ensure his safety.
Although Baumgartner's dive began as planned, he started to spin out of control during his descent. If he had continued to spin, Baumgartner's fall could have turned deadly, as the centrifugal force could have made him black out. However, as he fell further into the atmosphere, the air became thicker and he was able to right himself.
When he reached 5,000 feet above the ground, he deployed his parachute and then landed safely on his feet.
A team of scientists were on the ground in New Mexico, where the jump took place, to make sure Baumgartner's fall went smoothly. One team member, Jonathan Clark, was a NASA veteran who was on the medical team for the shuttle program. His wife died in 2003 when the shuttle Columbia broke apart while re-entering the atmosphere, and has since worked on improving the chances for survival for people working at high altitudes under duress.
Over eight million people from 50 different countries watched the jump on a web site set up by the jump's sponsor, energy drink maker Red Bull.
"It started really good because my exit was perfect. I did exactly what I was supposed to do. And then I was falling over. And it looked like for a second I'm going to tumble two more times and then I have it under control," - Felix Baumgartner.
1. What happens when an object hits the sound barrier?
2. What is centrifugal force?
3. What happens to the air as you rise higher and higher into the sky?
1. What did you find most interesting about this story?
2. Why do you think Baumgartner and his scientists attempted this jump?
3. What are some world records you would like to set?
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