Red Bull Stratos Jump: Will Conditions Ever Be Right?

If there ever was a deflating event it was Tuesday’s non-launch of the Red Bull Stratos experiment, which purports to use a big balloon to lift daredevil Felix Baumgartner some 20 miles into the sky, a height from which he will attempt the highest free fall ever.

But after being scrubbed Monday the Red Bull crew tried to get Baumgartner off the ground Tuesday — but after some limp inflating of the balloon high winds perked up and the whole thing was called off. Apparently the gusts also twisted the balloon enough to make it structurally unsure, as Red Bull said in a blog post:

As we inflated the balloon and got Felix into the capsule at about 11:42 we experienced gust of wind …that took us to above 22 knots at the peak of the balloon, that caused a spinnaker effect on the balloon billowing, which twists the balloon in the launch arm, the integrity of the balloon at that point is really unknown and unacceptable to use for manned flight because we were not sure what would happen as we launched.”

According to another blog post Wednesday there are some real complicated weather parameters that all need to fall into place for the launch to take place, leading us to wonder if this thing is ever going to happen — or if it ever really was in the first place. There’s a lot of interest in this stunt, as evidenced by the numbers of viewers on the live YouTube channel — which at one point hovered near the one million mark, which has got to be a YouTube record even though nothing was happening.

The non-cynic in us sees the immense amount of marketing money Red Bull has put into this effort and says, yeah, they really plan to do this. And apparently there is a second balloon at the ready, so another launch attempt is possible. But the jaded side of us says — you need to have perfectly still weather in the desert in the fall? Good luck with that. Stay tuned to the Red Bull Stratos page for more launch updates, the site says now that the launch is re-scheduled for 7 a.m. Mountain time this Sunday but this may be one of those things like the Maverick’s surf contest, where they wait for months for big waves that might not happen. We’ll keep watching, so stay tuned here at MSR for the latest when we see it on the Red Bull site.

Will You Watch the Red Bull Stratos Jump Live? Delayed Until Tuesday Next Week

UPDATE 3: Looks like we will have to wait until Sunday at the earliest:

Meteorologist Don Day confirmed a Thursday launch is not possible. The next weather window opens on Sunday October 14th.


Red Bull Stratos

UPDATE 2: Launch was canceled Tuesday due to strong winds. Try again tomorrow?

UPDATE: Follow the live feed on YouTube. As of 10:15 PT, the launch looks like a go, with Baumgartner getting into the capsule.

I’m still not sure if the upcoming Red Bull Stratos Jump is something really special, a complete PR stunt, a budding hoax, or at the very worst, the first live execution on the Internet. There is certainly no shortage of promotional prep work being done for the planned space jump by Felix Baumgartner, but the whole idea that the dude may have his eyeballs melt or something horrific like that makes the whole thing something I will probably skip when it happens live, now on Tuesday due to weather complications.

For a lot of details, Engadget has a great writeup here. Which spells out some of the risks, which include great harm that could come to Baumgartner’s body if bad things happen, like a suit tear, or an unstoppable spin.

Will you watch? Where do you come out on this stuff? I have been spending a lot of time lately being amazed at how Red Bull, the kind-of-weird energy drink, spends boatloads of cash to do things like sponsor far-out mountain bike escapades all in the name of YouTube bike porn. Good fun. But the space jump seems… a bit out there, in my opinion. As the blog post clip below notes, Felix will be wearing five high-def cameras so if anything goes wrong… the web will be the first to know.

Good luck Felix. I hope this is a thrill and not something bad.

Advanced high-definition cinematography cameras will beam real-time images of Felix Baumgartner’s every move in the Red Bull Stratos space capsule, providing interior and exterior points of view during the mission. And when Felix jumps, he’ll be wearing five high-definition cameras, giving you the feeling you’re right there with him in the descent.

In addition to documenting the record-breaking jump Felix’s experience will also be captured by powerful long-range and infrared cameras on the ground, as well as by a helicopter hovering near his flight path. The live stream of Felix’s jump will be available on, on partner sites and carried by more than 50 TV and Internet channels around the globe, in advance of a BBC documentary this fall.

Jay Nemeth (FlightLine Films), the mission’s director of high-altitude photography, and his team have been working to meet the challenges of the lethal stratosphere for the last five years. The Red Bull Stratos capsule and Baumgartner’s pressure suit have more HD cameras than most 45-foot TV production trucks. “We have basically created a flying video production studio,” Nemeth said.

Who ensures secure signals from the capsule back to earth? Riedel Communications, renowned for its advanced fiber, intercom and radio technology – provides the entire communications solution for the mission, integrating both wireless and wired digital intercom systems. Riedel furnishes the fiber-based video and signal distribution as well as the wireless video links to the capsule’s onboard cameras – enabling stunning pictures to be delivered from the Red Bull Stratos capsule to ground control.