Felix ran into a few glitches this time, including the complete lack of aerodynamic stability near 100,000 feet. (Spacecraft and suborbital spaceplanes use reaction thrusters — rockets — for attitude control. Felix apparently tumbled until he had enough aerodynamic purchase on thicker air to get stable).
Appropriately enough, this Unusual Falling Object plunged from the sky over UFO-buff mecca: Roswell, New Mexico.
Marcia Dunn has a report for AP:
On Wednesday, Baumgartner took another stratospheric leap, this time from an altitude of more than 18 miles – an estimated 96,640 feet, nearly three times higher than cruising jetliners. He landed safely near Roswell, N.M. His top speed was an estimated 536 mph, said Brian Utley, an official observer on site.
It’s the second test jump for Baumgartner from such extreme heights and a personal best. He’s aiming for a record-breaking jump from 125,000 feet, or 23 miles, in another month. He hopes to go supersonic then, breaking the speed of sound with just his body.
“It has always been a dream of mine,” Baumgartner said in a statement following Wednesday’s feat. “Only one more step to go.”
Longtime record-holder Joe Kittinger jumped from 102,800 feet – 19.5 miles – in 1960 for the Air Force. Kittinger monitored Wednesday’s dry run from a mini Mission Control in Roswell.
More information at the link or at the Red Bull Stratos site. Congratulations to Felix! Next stop, 125,000 and Joe Kittinger’s absolute altitude record.