We know this. At around 120,000 feet, on the fringes of space, the air is so thin that a falling human body would travel fast enough to exceed the speed of sound. A skydiver, properly equipped with pressurised suit and a supply of oxygen to protect against the hostile elements, could feasibly jump from that height and, about 30 seconds later, punch through the sound barrier – becoming the first person ever to go “supersonic” without the aid of an aircraft or space shuttle.
Here our knowledge ends. Experts admit cluelessness. Our skydiver could render a mighty “krakoom!” across the high skies or history could be made in utter silence. Immense forces could knock the intrepid skydiver out cold, could peel the skin back from his body or simply cause a little wobble in the midriff, like a playful hug. Nobody is quite sure – but one of two men will soon find out.
Last year, the Guardian highlighted Felix Baumgartner and Michel Fournier, two skydivers both trying to conduct a dive from the edge of space. Baumgartner’s dive was sponsored by Red Bull. Fournier’s was self-funded and multiple decades in the making.
Unfortunately, a series of setbacks prevented Fournier’s dive from happening, and a Baumgartner’s dive has been put on indefinite hold. That said, the article is still an amazing read.
Via Instapaper. Image by blueforce4116.