October 8, 2012

"Supersonic Skydive's 5 Biggest Risks: Boiling Blood, Deadly Spins & Worse."

Could this guy please not do this?
The highest risk during descent is a flat spin, where Baumgartner would lose control of his free fall and begin to spin laterally, his head and feet rotating around his center.

A flat spin draws blood into the jumper's head and feet. At a speed exceeding 600 miles (970 kilometers) an hour, a flat spin could spin a jumper at 180 to 250 rotations a minute, creating a situation of extreme negative G's....
Then pressure builds up, "blood and spinal fluid are forced outward, and their main escape routes are through the ocular cavities."
The flat-spin risk can be mediated with... a stabilization parachute to prevent further increase in rotation, deployed on command, or automatically if -3.5 G's are achieved.

In 1960 Kittinger's stabilization parachute was designed to deploy automatically shortly after he jumped, to prevent a flat spin. But Baumgartner has his eyes on a new speed record....
His eyes... which might burst.

66 comments:

mccullough said...

If you want the ultimate, you have to be willing to pay the ultimate price.

clint said...

Freedom means letting people do things that seem pointless and stupid to everyone else.

This is called, "the Pursuit of Happiness."

Steve Austin said...

If Althouse readers want to learn more about the record trying to be broken here, they should read the Wiki entry for Joe Kittinger.

Kittinger link

The guy made these unbelievable jumps 50 years ago.

Then afterwards he headed off for multiple tours in Vietnam, flying almost 500 missions there. Was shot down and was a POW for awhile.

Probably one of our top ten greatest people in the service in US history.

Steve Austin said...

This YouTube link has a great first minute with actual camera footage from Kittinger's gondola and Kittinger himself in free fall.

Kittinger making the leap from Space

Disregard the last couple minutes where the clip morphs into a music video. The first minute though is extremely compelling.

Larry J said...

Joe Kittinger is a hell of a guy. If you want to know who he considers the bravest man ever, go read about Dr. John Stapp. Safety improvements that resulted from his work likely have saves a million or more lives worldwide.

cubanbob said...

Looks like this guy is going to be a contender for worst case of suicide ever.

Dante said...

I was driving down 101, and four motorcycles road by at high speed. One of the young kids was popping a wheely at probably 100mph, with other cars on the road. Well, shit, that's living life. It was pretty nerve wracking, and I hoped he didn't splatter himself all over the pavement in front of my kids.

It must have been 15 nerve wracking seconds that he did this.

Tank said...

Burst eyeballs !

Is that fatal?

jrberg3 said...

Does it ultimately matter to anyone if the worst happens to him? Who cares?

I think what he is doing is awesome. Good for him, he knows these risks and it is his life he is risking. What's the problem?

Cedarford said...

I note that the man that broke the records, Joe Kittinger, was not doing it as a pointless exercise in ego indulgence and attention-getting, as Baumgartner is, but for the military's needs.

Back in the day, ultra high altitude spy planes and of course, humans going into space - were anticipated.
The military and civilian aerospace industry - and of course the Soviets - wanted to know if pilots (or the astronauts coming) could survive a extreme altitude bailout in the upper atmosphere.

Kittinger and the team that designed, assembled his equipment and all the sensors and telemetry made a huge contribution. And Kittinger went on to even more contributions in a truly amazing life.

But now, Baumgartner is just a record chasing daredevil. He is not going to contribute to a scientific frontier or anything. He would set a meaningless record.

Doesn't even involve athletic or mental skill.
The same stunt could be done by a crash dummy put in Felix's suit and dumped out of the balloon capsule.
He will get lots of attention for a few days, then move on to some new stunts until Darwin's Law claims him.

Scott M said...

I'm almost positive that National Geographic Daily News website had the exact same warning for Christopher Columbus the day he set sail.

Methadras said...

The human capacity to test and break the human limits of endurance can never be squashed. I would not want to burst this guys bubble.

chrisnavin.com said...

Go Felix!

Nihimon said...

"Could this guy please not do this?"

Could you please not do that?

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Once Obamacare is in full force, all risky behavior will be statutorily forbidden. Why should I, the taxpayer, fork out for Baumgartner's burst eyeballs? The needs of the many outweigh the desires of the few.

Sofa King said...

Could this guy please not do this?

Nope, and that's why he's awesome.

Tank said...

Would it be wrong of me to hope he lands at 500 mph on Madonna while she's wearing her Muslim wedding peace outfit?

Marshal said...

Outside the capsule, Baumgartner, insulated by his suit, will descend through the tropopause in a matter of seconds, minimizing the dangers of such extreme temperatures.

I chuckled at this. If anything's wrong with his suit the guy is dead, no matter how fast he's going through the Tropopause.

Curious George said...

I think "Chute doesn't open" might make that list also.

Bug on a windshield.

Sofa King said...

Think he'll listen to the new "Skyfall" song while he falls from the sky?

Scott M said...

Think he'll listen to the new "Skyfall" song while he falls from the sky?

I can think of worse music to die to. Anything from Sousa comes to mind.

Steve Austin said...

Cedarford, I understand your point about Baumgartner being a daredevil. And no question that Baumgartner's record (if he succeeds) would pale to Kittinger's accomplishment given the modern technology advances in the past 52 years.

Yet all that said, given that we have very little in the way of aerospace role models right now, I'll take this event.

The jump tomorrow not only helps highlight Kittinger for a new generation but might inspire some kids who follow it online.

I'll take anything inspirational we can get these days in place of the Muslim outreach program that NASA has become. I wish Gingrich hadn't tainted the space angle for Romney with his "moon base" discussions in the primary. I think this country could use a manned space mission somewhere right now.

Carnifex said...

I would wager that you took a bigger risk driving to work this morning than this guy is jumping. It's just what your personal limits of daredeviltry are pegged at. His is a little high. I took up scuba diving because there as almost zero chance of falling. Air embolisms in the eyeball weren't a consideration, but they are a distinct possibility.

I say good for him. If he is successful, I'll watch it, and if he ain't, I'll watch it, so it doesn't matter to me.(actually I don't go for death porn. I refuse to watch that sort of thing)

Curious George said...

It would be ironic if his chute didn't open in the Red Bill "Gives you Wings" Space Dive.

Marshal said...

Steve Austin said...
The jump tomorrow not only helps highlight Kittinger for a new generation but might inspire some kids who follow it online.


Why is this important? We need more people to work for a living, we have enough entertainers.

Rusty said...

Meh.

edutcher said...

They'll be watching this in Yuma. When they say space is the ultimate military high ground, this is what they mean.

Sofa King said...

Think he'll listen to the new "Skyfall" song while he falls from the sky?

More like "Blood On The Risers".

Larry J said...

Marshal said...
Steve Austin said...
The jump tomorrow not only helps highlight Kittinger for a new generation but might inspire some kids who follow it online.

Why is this important? We need more people to work for a living, we have enough entertainers.


Joe Kittinger was most definitely not an entertainer.

PatCA said...

This is faux bravery, courage porn.

If a man feels the need for such challenges, he should, like Mr. Kittinger, join the military to use it for something bigger than his own ego.

Marshal said...

Larry J said...

Joe Kittinger was most definitely not an entertainer.


Kittinger jumped 50 years ago. How will whatever inspiration kids draw from tomorrows stunt help them or us?

clint said...

Marshal said...

Steve Austin said...
The jump tomorrow not only helps highlight Kittinger for a new generation but might inspire some kids who follow it online.

Why is this important? We need more people to work for a living, we have enough entertainers.

---

People who are inspired work hard to accomplish their dreams.

Some of those dreams will become the major industries and Dow 30 companies that we can't yet imagine.

We have plenty of people willing to work for a living -- that's what a high unemployment rate means, literally.

Peter said...

I'd have to agree with what 'Cedarford' said: there was a point to doing what was done fifty years ago, not so much point in what's to be done.

In any case, increasing the high-altitude jump record from ~100,000 feet to ~120,000 just doesn't seem all that big of a deal.

Now, if someone would care to try a descent from low earth orbit in a retro-rocket equipped "lifeboat" suit, well, that would be worthy of this level of hype.

Lyle said...

Icarus 2012.

Marshal said...

clint said...

People who are inspired work hard to accomplish their dreams.

Some of those dreams will become the major industries and Dow 30 companies that we can't yet imagine.


This seems to me like the old skit:

1. Collect dirty underwear.
2. ????.
3. Get rich!

You're missing the key step translating the fact into the result. Kids who see this may be inspired to become entertainers, or to develop thrill seeking hobbies. But I don't agree that any inspiration translates to work, and I think that's what your conclusion relies on.

David said...

My Dad and I were talking about pilots who first reached the speed of sound in their aircraft.

He pointed out that Yaeger was not the first to do it, just the first to survive.

He was pretty sure a number of P-47 pilots in his squadron had reached the speed of sound during combat, in dives they never pulled out of.

Chip Ahoy said...

Rocket Maaaan, burning up the shoes off everyone!

Larry J said...

Marshal said...
Larry J said...

Joe Kittinger was most definitely not an entertainer.

Kittinger jumped 50 years ago. How will whatever inspiration kids draw from tomorrows stunt help them or us?


That some things are worth risking your life to achieve? That skill and daring are more than something in a video game?

David said...
My Dad and I were talking about pilots who first reached the speed of sound in their aircraft.

He pointed out that Yaeger was not the first to do it, just the first to survive.

He was pretty sure a number of P-47 pilots in his squadron had reached the speed of sound during combat, in dives they never pulled out of.


No, none of those WWII piston-engined fighters could break Mach one or even come close. They just had too much drag. Planes like the P-38, P-47 and P-51 did go fast enough in a dive to encounter compressibility effects. This happened when the plane was transonic (typically about Mach 0.8, give or take) where supersonic airflow over the top of those thick wings did cause shock waves to interfere with the tails and cause other nasty things to happen. About all a pilot could do was ride it out until the plane slowed in denser air (or he hit the ground or his tail ripped off).

Cedarford said...

Steve Austin - " I think this country could use a manned space mission somewhere right now."

The major problems - economic,plus realization biological life evolved on Earth in a protective magnetosphere with constant G-force was most unsuited for life in space - was known in the 60s. And the major problems needed resolving:

High launch weight costs.

Devestating effects of ionizing radiation.

Inability to recycle in space.

Barring a colony, how each manned mission is really two missions - one to do what they want to do, the other to safely return the people.

Lack of a long lasting, powerful, lightweight energy source with minimal weight and bulk fuel requirements. Everyone knows that means a nuke reactor, but no suitable one has been designed and tested in the last 50 years.

Biological wastage in space - now understood not to be just muscle but all tissues.

*****
Add to them more recent challenges:

1. Development in recent decades of Zero risk tolerance.
2. Layers of accumulated bureaucratic intertia and regs and more regs on any manned mission.
3. Development of unmanned craft, broadband comms, quantum leaps in computer capability, and robotic technology that can do satellite repairs, scan scientific targets with better sensors than humans. Less launch weight, no barriers like manned flights have, near-unlimited stay times, no return trip needed.

I would support a manned mission or at least a lab rat or ape mission that would put people or critters in a spinning craft to see if the biological wastage problem is solved with centrifugal force. That is scientifically important to know. If not, (and the radiation damage matter is not fixable) - the future of space may belong to AI machines with human consciouness - not our present human form.

AS for only Buck Rogers can inspire children -- no, Hubble and the Mars Rovers show it is more important to do new things on new frontiers than have "a teacher in space, a Muslim in space, etc."

Marshal said...

Larry J said...

That some things are worth risking your life to achieve? That skill and daring are more than something in a video game?


I think there are very few jobs where risking one's life improves performance.

bagoh20 said...

Go for it. It's not like we're on the endagered species list anyway.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

There wasn't much point to climbing Everest, but people still think Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were pretty cool.

Sofa King said...

Larry J said...

That some things are worth risking your life to achieve? That skill and daring are more than something in a video game?

I think there are very few jobs where risking one's life improves performance.


That's as may be, but it highlights the truism that without risk there is no reward.

Marshal said...

Sofa King said...
That's as may be, but it highlights the truism that without risk there is no reward.


I think this gets very close to the point I'm making. Risk for a reward makes sense. But there is no reward here. Fleeting notoriety for this guy - I don't remember his name haveing read it an hour ago. The rest of us benefit not a bit.

People are cheering risk because... they seem to think we have too little of it. I can't agree.

Larry J said...

Marshal said...
Larry J said...

That some things are worth risking your life to achieve? That skill and daring are more than something in a video game?

I think there are very few jobs where risking one's life improves performance.


I take it you've never served in the military. There's an old fighter pilot saying that "Death is not too high a price to pay for looking shit hot." I'm a former paratrooper. Every time we left the plane, we were putting our lives on the line (no pun intended). There are a lot of jobs that require putting your life on the line, such as a firefighter entering a burning building or a cop making an emergency call. Lot of people risk their lives on a regular basis, not for a stunt like this jump tomorrow (Kittenger's was different) but in the service of something greater than themselves.

Crunchy Frog said...

Now, if someone would care to try a descent from low earth orbit in a retro-rocket equipped "lifeboat" suit, well, that would be worthy of this level of hype.

I'm waiting for the jump suits from Heinlein's Starship Troopers. Now that would be cool.

Methadras said...

Crunchy Frog said...

Now, if someone would care to try a descent from low earth orbit in a retro-rocket equipped "lifeboat" suit, well, that would be worthy of this level of hype.

I'm waiting for the jump suits from Heinlein's Starship Troopers. Now that would be cool.


Forget that, go for the gold, Warhammer 40k Space Marines or even better MechWarriors. :D

Larry J said...

Well, there was the MOOSE proposal back in the early 1960s. That would be one hell of a ride.

The widower of one of the astronauts killed in the Columbia accident is supporting this skydive as a step in the direction of giving astronauts a better chance of surviving a reentry gone wrong.

paul a'barge said...

Could this guy please not do this?

Oh shut up, Althouse, you nattering ninny.

If men on this planet followed your lead all of humanity would be pulling grubs from stumps and picking lice from each others furry tunics.

Marshal said...

Larry J said...
I take it you've never served in the military.


This is true, but I don't think we suffer from a lack of enthusiasm amongst our warfighters and firefighters. We suffer with too few financial managers, medical service managers, and technicians among many other things. Things that are on some level monotonous and devoid of adrenaline (and also take traning, so you have to make the decision long before you expect to get a job). People aren't inspired to perform at these jobs because they see pure adrenaline stunts, rather the opposite.

Strelnikov said...

"Not do this?" Why not? I assume he is a rational adult. Let him boil.

mojavehicular said...

You're being a female, par excellence. Nothing wrong with that.

Sofa King said...



It's not about us, at all.

The Mercury program was over. Four years later, astronaut Gus Grissom was killed, along with astronauts White and Chaffee, when fire swept through their Apollo capsule. But on that glorious day in May 1963, Gordo Cooper went higher, farther, and faster than any other American - 22 complete orbits around the world; he was the last American ever to go into space alone. And for a brief moment, Gordo Cooper became the greatest pilot anyone had ever seen.

Christoph said...

Yeah, what's wrong with that?

If he doesn't do it, he's going to die anyway one day, probably doing something much less significant to him, and quite possibly going about it for a much longer spell of misery. Even a heart attack doesn't sound pleasant. Did you know people often regurgitate acid and shit?

I hope he makes it, but at the end of the day, we all pass from here into the non-existence from which we sprang. Not one thing we do or don't do can change that.

William said...

On the plus side, if he survives the jump he will attain the fame of Kittinger and have a caffeineated drink named in his honor. How many people even heard of Kitinger before this?....Just from the little I've learned here he does seem like Roger Maris to Kitinger's Babe Ruth. He will be become famous as the man who didn't deserve to own the record. Guinness will probably put an asterisk after his name.

FloridaSteve said...

"Could this guy please not do this?" I find this comment to be almost a perfect example of the wussification of this country. I suppose I should not be surprised since it's coming from someone who is so mind numbingly deliberate as to wait till the walk to the polls before making a decision on who to vote for.... shrug.. Sorry Ann. I love the subtle provocation of your writing but it's how you're starting to come off lately.

Christoph said...

"Could this guy please not do this?" I find this comment to be almost a perfect example of the wussification of this country.

Nah, it's just a girl being a girl.

Christoph said...

And for a brief moment, Gordo Cooper became the greatest pilot anyone had ever seen.

In a universe 13 billion years old and counting, that's the only kind of moments there are.

Might as well take them while they're there.

Christoph said...

Oh, and forget social approval for a moment. He actually got to fly around the Earth 22 times in space. That's pretty cool. Not everyone gets to experience that.

Forgetting public accolades, this skydiving feat will be memorable.

Petunia said...

The medical director for this, Dr. Jon Clark, is the widower of Laurel Clark, who died on Columbia.

While those astronauts had no chance to escape their ship, I wonder if some aspects of THIS jump might, in the future, if we ever have a manned space program again, serve as a base for potential escape systems.

Whether those systems could ever work, who knows? But better to have the option than to sit in your seat and be charred into a briquette because the geniuses at Mission Control didn't think your craft was damaged.

Kirk Parker said...

Tank,

Yes, it's wrong--and also very funny!

XRay said...

"Anything from Sousa comes to mind."

Hey, I love my Sousa. Used to serenade my troops in SVN with whispered and whistled renditions of same. They loved it.

Col Mustard said...

Joe Kitt' is the 'real deal'. His picture should be part of Nike's 'Just do it' logo.

Joe didn't seek fame for doing stuff, he just wanted to do stuff.
If Baumgartner called in sick on jump day, I think Joe would say, "I'll go."

My good fortune to know him, all those years ago (Big Eagle at NKP)

Col Mustard said...

Joe Kitt' is the 'real deal'. His picture should be part of Nike's 'Just do it' logo.

Joe didn't seek fame for doing stuff, he just wanted to do stuff.
If Baumgartner called in sick on jump day, I think Joe would say, "I'll go."

My good fortune to know him, all those years ago (Big Eagle at NKP)

Rusty said...

Forgetting public accolades, this skydiving feat will be memorable.


Especially if the chute doesn't open.

viator said...

It could be worse...

"Florida Man, 32, Dies Shortly After Winning Pet Store's Roach-Eating Contest"

Smoking Gun

Strelnikov said...

It's almost like we weren't meant to eat live roaches.