World’s Highest Skydive Calls for World’s Biggest Balloon

By now you probably know about the world record skydive attempt that is upcoming.  The “Red Bull Challenge” will have Felix Baumgartner jump from an astonishing 23 miles above the surface of the earth, effectively from the edge of space.  Now we are learning some of the more interesting tidbits from behind the scenes of this record-breaking jump.

The technology that lies behind a feat like this is, as you can imagine, pretty amazing.  First, there’s the pressurized capsule that resembles something like what the Apollo astronauts splashed down inside of.  Then there is the massive balloon required to haul both the capsule and the jumper to such mind-boggling heights.  The balloon is so large that it will actually require 10 workers just to unfurl it and it will take about 45 minutes just to fill the 334 foot tall polyethylene structure.  Even more amazing is the fact that the balloon is actually about 10 times thinner than the average sandwich bag.

Baumgartner expects to become the first human to break the sound barrier when he makes the historic leap, a faster speed than Joe Kittinger attained during his record setting 1960 jump in which he reached 614 mph, or Mach 0.9.