On Sunday, October 14, 2012, millions of people around the globe watched as one Austrian skydiver by the name of Felix Baumgartner ascended 24 miles into the upper stratosphere only to jump out and plummet back to earth faster than the speed of sound. The record-breaking skydive was done in the name of advancing spaceflight and aviation. For Baumgartner the attempt was the culmination of a lifetime’s work and devotion; for the rest of the world it was just the beginning. The record-breaking feat attracted a level of scientific fascination not seen since the Cold War Space Race.
In a time when nuclear war seemed only a misinterpreted word away, two nations battled for the ultimate bragging rights—space. It was the last frontier. The United States and Soviet Union took it upon themselves, in a competition of ingenuity and scientific wit, to explore the unexplored. Intrigued onlookers watched in awe as the superpowers propelled scientific advancement to, quite literally, new heights.
Spaceflight and scientific exploration fascinated the minds of adults and sparked the imaginations of children. The Space Race brought a new level of popularity to science, technology and engineering. Analytic young minds studied mathematics, medicine, biology, geology, engineering and physics. As a result, technologies advanced and revolutionary discoveries were made.
Since Neil Armstrong took those first steps on the moon, public interest in space exploration has steadily decreased. The budget for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been cut, launches are no longer televised and less people are pursuing scientific degrees. Scientific fascination dwindled…or so we thought. As Felix Baumgartner and the Red Bull Stratos team showed, people still enjoy scientific discovery. We went to the website, researched the facts and statistics, discussed possible outcomes and provided different insights. The world was once again engaged, but why?
The Red Bull Stratos event was a risky, adventurous and amazing journey into the unknown. We watched for entertainment; we watched to marvel; we watched to witness history-in-the-making. The event made scientific exploration new and exciting. Live webcams followed the entire ascent and descent of Baumgartner, media representatives reported real-time developments and area residents flocked to the airfield to witness liftoff.
Watching together, we marveled at the heroics of Felix Baumgartner as he hurtled toward earth faster than the speed of sound. Baumgartner showed what the human body is capable of—what we are capable of. The Red Bull Stratos event brought public intrigue back to scientific discovery. It once again sparked our fascinated imaginations.
Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance Services believes in the scientific advancement of aviation and spaceflight. Exploration of the unknown opens doors to new possibilities. What Felix Baumgartner and the Red Bull Stratos team proved, this past weekend with the record breaking jump, is that sometimes you have to run before you can walk.