Observations on the Space Dive

If you were to take the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing and mix it with the Evel Knievel motor cycle stunts of the ’70s and ’80s, you would have something close to this past Sunday’s jump from the edge of space.

As Felix Baumgartner stood in a capsule suspended some 24 miles above the Earth, millions of people were with him…in a way. Despite the seven professional football games being broadcast at the time, the Internet was on fire with people live streaming this daredevil and his monumental achievement.

When Baumgartner stepped off the capsule and began his decent toward the New Mexico desert below, he achieved several world records. Not the least of which was surviving the world’s longest free fall. It took this super sonic skydiver nine minutes to land safely back on the ground. If Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin” had been on repeat on Baumgartener’s iPod, he would have heard it 2.17 times.

The event happened without a network broadcast in the United States. Though it was carried on cable’s Discovery Channel, eight million people world wide watched The Redbull sponsored YouTube link.

As I marveled at the idea that eight million people watched via their computer or smart phone as a man jumped to the earth from space, I was overwhelmed by  two thoughts:

First, I carry the ability to watch any event in my pocket. The wealth of human knowledge is accessible almost anywhere in the world. Say your car broke down. From your stranded position and utilizing your smartphone, you could download a video of someone repairing the exact issue that your engine is experiencing. Or you could call a tow truck and watch videos of people getting hit in the groin until it arrives.  Either way we live in fascinating times.

Second, Redbull is doing more in space than the US government.


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7 thoughts on “Observations on the Space Dive

  1. mike says:

    Does Red Bull have a robot exploring mars right now? Or satellites probing the furthest reaches of the universe? Discovering new exosolar planets? No.

    This was a publicity stunt that, yes, exceeded what NASA did in the 60s. But this meme is beyond stupid. To say that this stunt was of more value or more interesting than what NASA is currently doing demonstrates that you don’t actually know or appreciate the awesome things that NASA is responsible for.

    • TJ Johnston says:

      Or maybe he was making a bit of humor to close out the article?

      • mike says:

        Yeah, true- perhaps an overreaction. I’ve just seen this being promoted by conservatives who like to cut funding to government programs and then complain that those programs aren’t being effective.

        • TJ Johnston says:

          It’s cool. I think most people understand that NASA does some awesome stuff still, even if they aren’t as visible as they were in the 60s-80s.

          I think the future of space will probably have to happen through a partnership with corporations and government programs. Crazy concept, I know, but the government and corporate world don’t have to be at odds all the time.

          • mike says:

            Public-private partnerships are already in place, at least in terms of the government contracting private firms.

            The problem I have with people complaining about NASA is that, outside of putting up satellites for communications purposes, there really aren’t a whole lot of commercial opportunities in space (well, the market for eccentric billionaires playing spaceman is growing but still pretty small).

            It then follows that, right now, the main source of funding to explore space for the sake of knowledge/research/just being awesome (which is what we are currently capable of) will almost certainly be the government and not a corporation that needs to turn a profit. Meaning if people want more cool space stuff, the government is going to be paying for a large chunk of it. For now.

          • TJ Johnston says:

            I’m all for anything that allows me to see the c-beams glitter near the Tannhauser Gate.

  2. […] J. Fortune has learned more from the space dive than just that it is really cool when someone jumps to the planet from space, a’la the most recent Star Trek. […]

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