Okay, even though 22 miles up isn't quite the "edge of space", it's still really, really high — and that's exactly where extreme BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner will be freefalling from this Tuesday, October 9, during the long-awaited culmination of the Red Bull Stratos mission in the skies above Roswell, N.M.
After literally years of preparation — physically, mentally, financially and technologically — Baumgartner and his team are ready to execute his ultimate ascent via balloon-powered pressurized capsule to the intimidating height of 120,000 feet, at which point he will jump, freefalling to Earth at supersonic speeds through frigid and virtually airless stretches of atmosphere.
Baumgartner will break records, pushing the limits of the human body while challenging not only himself but the technology that's been specially designed to keep him alive from liftoff to landing.
The question is: would YOU do it?
Obviously Baumgartner is a professional. He comes to this with a lifetime of experience jumping from…well, anything…and the support of an entire team of dedicated engineers, scientists, physicians (not to mention Joe Kittinger himself, the current record-holder for high-altitude freefalls!). He also has as the financial support of the world's most popular energy drink, Red Bull. He knows full well what he's getting himself into and without any one of those things this all wouldn't even be possible.
So that being said, if you had that sort of support and backing, would you put it all on the line and attempt the world's highest, fastest freefall from 22 miles (36.5 km)?
(By the way, that's about three and a half times the altitude of a commercial jet airliner.)
And the results of my blog poll:
…which came with an additional comment by reader John M. Larson, "Safety is my #1 concern. If I have the proper team at hand, then I would think it would be a great adventure and an amazing view (especially if there is a helmet cam to video on the way down)."
So it seems that plenty of people would be into an Earthward plummet from 120,000 feet, if given the chance (and a little corporate sponsorship.)
Still, it's not a risk to be taken lightly… epic views and international fame aside, conditions at those altitudes are, shall I say, less-than-optimal for human survival. Not to mention that breaking the sound barrier with just a pressure suit will prove to be quite interesting, I'm sure.
So you've heard what Baumgartner is planning to do, and youve seen what others have said. Now's your chance to let the world know… WOULD YOU JUMP?
Put your answer in the comments below, and save the date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012, 6:00 a.m. MDT (weather permitting.) Whether you're in or out, the countdown is on.
Follow the Red Bull Stratos mission here.
Image: Felix Baumgartner. Credit: Red Bull
Note: the original version of this post had the date as Monday, Oct. 8, but it has since been postponed to the 9th due to weather at the launch site.