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UCF Space Expert Looks at Lessons from Baumgartner Jump

Oct 16, 2012 | WMFE - Professional skydiver Felix Baumgartner's record-breaking freefall from the stratosphere is drawing both praise and criticism. Baumgartner made the leap Sunday, breaking the sound barrier with a high altitude jump from a specially-made helium balloon craft. While some scientific observers are dismissing the jump as a "stunt," University of Central Florida's space expert says it's more than just a daredevil feat.

[Image: Felix Baumgartner begins his record-breaking jump]

Dale Ketcham is the Director of the Spaceport Research and Technology Institute at UCF.

He says “stunt” or not, Baumgartner’s skydive from space has roots in the past and could forecast the future. "It was both very contemporary in that it was the commercial sector going out into space, but yet also in many ways a fallback to early aviation, when you had the barnstormers and things of that nature, which were basically stunts but a lot was learned in that process."

Ketcham says just as those barnstorming pilots helped shape commercial airplane flight, Baumgartner’s jump may have long-term practical applications no one expects.

The website for the mission, dubbed “Red Bull Stratos” after its sponsor, says data from the jump could help “establish viable escape procedures for passengers and crew in space.”


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