Posted at: 10/09/2012 11:53 AM
Updated at: 10/09/2012 10:07 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4
The Red Bull Stratos mission planned for October 9 in Roswell was postponed just minutes before completing inflation of the balloon due to windy weather, which could have made the balloon more susceptible to tearing and the mission more dangerous.
Austrian skydiver and base jumper, Felix Baumgartner, backed by Red Bull and a team of aerospace experts, was set to jump from a stratospheric balloon lifted 120,000 feet in the air, free falling and breaking the sound barrier. The mission would reportedly break records and help with scientific research.
The project has been years in the making, with the planning process beginning in 2005. Red Bull Stratos assembled a team consisting of experts in skydiving, medicine, aerospace engineering and other related fields to organize a successful and productive mission. The team included retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Joseph Kittinger, who holds three of the records Baumgartner intends to break. Kittinger had made a record jump from 102,800 ft in 1960.
The planning process included producing an appropriate suit for the program, finding a location with ideal conditions, and testing out equipment in unmanned test falls. Then, Baumgartner made test falls at smaller heights. In March 2012, Baumgartner made a test fall at 71,614 ft and in July 2012, a fall from 97,063 feet.
The team had planned to start the October 9 launch at 6:30 in the morning, but postponed due to strong winds at 700 ft, near the top of the balloon. They expected calmer speeds at the 11:30 a.m. launch time, but found that they were too significant to ensure a safe launch.
The Red Bull Stratos team said they still plan to conduct the mission at that site in Roswell; they are working to find an appropriate weather window and will update their website and Twitter account with the new dates.
You can visit the Red Bull Stratos project website at www.redbullstratos.com/live.