Leaping From the Edge of Earth

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My esteemed colleague Nick shared this Boards of Canada video with me earlier. Part of the footage used is from Joseph Kittinger's famous Project Excelsior flight.

The more I think about it and the more I watch the footage, the more strikingly amazing this achievement is to me. From an open gondola 102,800 feet above sea level (that's about three times the altitude of Everest's summit and more than twice the maximum cruising altitude of a commercial airliner), he jumped with a parachute strapped to his back. From that high, the edge of the Earth's atmosphere is clearly visible against the black background of empty space. From that height, when you jump, you can't hear air rushing past you for several seconds because there is none.

When you describe it at first, it sounds so violent and terrifying, but I imagine that moment as being most tranquil, those few quiet seconds before the hot roar of reentry. You would drop for miles before your parachute could even function properly, and then thousands of feet before finally reaching the ground, but I think those first few seconds would last forever.

Just thought I would share. Until we meet again, space cadets.