To boldly go how no man has gone before

Sometimes, amid the smallness and caution that our politics often is, it’s worth stepping back in amazement at something big and daring that a fellow human being has done. From the New York Times’ write-up of one of the more incredible things anyone has done in a long, long time:

ROSWELL, N.M. — A man fell to Earth from more than 24 miles high Sunday, becoming the first human to break the sound barrier under his own power — with some help from gravity.

The man, Felix Baumgartner, an Austrian daredevil, made the highest and fastest jump in history after ascending by a helium balloon to an altitude of 128,100 feet. As millions around the world experienced the vertiginous view from his capsule’s camera, which showed a round blue world surrounded by the black of space, he stepped off into the void and plummeted for more than four minutes, reaching a maximum speed measured at 833.9 miles per hour, or Mach 1.24.

He broke altitude and speed records set half a century ago by Joe Kittinger, now 84, a retired Air Force colonel whose reassuring voice from mission control guided Mr. Baumgartner through tense moments.

Think about sitting, truly, on top of the world and then jumping out of the vessel that carried you there, toward the unforgiving earth that makes people think twice about leaping from one-one hundredth of one-one hundredth of that height.

There may or may not be anything to come out of it that materially benefits mankind — the Times’ story mentions a spacesuit and information that could help future space tourists who have to abandon ship. But there’s something to be said, and marveled at, about such an unprecedented feat of human bravery.

Would that our politicians had the guts of Felix Baumgartner.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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149 comments Add your comment

Bhorsoft

October 15th, 2012
12:22 pm

First? And yes, amazing!

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

October 15th, 2012
12:23 pm

More evidence of the superiority of the private sector, versus collectivist Government.

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

October 15th, 2012
12:24 pm

Baumgartner Did Build That!

Bruno

October 15th, 2012
12:28 pm

Think about sitting, truly, on top of the world and then jumping out of the vessel that carried you there, toward the unforgiving earth that makes people think twice about leaping from one-one hundredth of one-one hundredth of that height.

I’d like to believe that I have more sense than that, Kyle. ;-)

Would that our politicians had the guts of Felix Baumgartner.

Along with you, I am tremendously disappointed with our current crop of elected leaders who don’t seem willing to make the tough choices economically. We have to get our financial house in order pronto, or the effects of the crushing debt are going to dog us for decades. The only viable solution I see right now is for hyperinflation to kick in, thus rendering the current numbers meaningless. From my perspective, QE3 seems to be pointing us in that direction. It will be interesting to see how the prices of gold and silver respond in the next few years.

carlosgvv

October 15th, 2012
12:29 pm

I think our entire space industry will graduall become privatized.

Bruno

October 15th, 2012
12:36 pm

More evidence of the superiority of the private sector, versus collectivist Government.

In the same vein, Rafe, one individual, Craig Venter, kicked the butt of the lavishly funded Human Genome Project back in the early 2000s, and for only a fraction of the cost.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Genome_Project

JKL2

October 15th, 2012
12:41 pm

If obama would like to go, I’d be willing to pack his chute for him…

Bruno

October 15th, 2012
12:43 pm

I think our entire space industry will graduall become privatized.

Which may not be a bad thing. Who can forget how Richard Feynman unmasked the failed bureaucracy of NASA back in 1986 following the explosion of the Challenger??

Over on the private side, Elon Musk has done some pretty amazing things.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elon_Musk

md

October 15th, 2012
12:49 pm

I can understand doing this if it really had some scientific breakthrough achievement, but this seems like merely a death wish. How close can I come to death and make it? Too much could go wrong for me to try it. I’m not the Evel Knievel type………..

Bruno

October 15th, 2012
12:50 pm

In the world of astronomy, Wayne Rosing is in the process of creating a global network of telescopes which will allow continuous coverage of astronomical events.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Las_Cumbres_Observatory_Global_Telescope_Network

I can’t recall his name right now, but another gentleman has put together a team of amateur astronomers who analyze pictures of space to look for new star formation using their home computers. He regularly scoops the large Universities who have much greater resources at their disposal.

tiredofIT

October 15th, 2012
12:50 pm

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer’s ineptocracy
October 15th, 2012
12:23 pm

More evidence of the superiority of the private sector, versus collectivist Government.
++
Sure, he individually created all of the technology to the jump. I don’t think so.

MANGLER

October 15th, 2012
12:52 pm

Think of how many people love skydiving and what a large industry is related to that globally. Ready yourselves for spacediving! I’d like to run the capsule retrieval division myself.

Bruno

October 15th, 2012
12:54 pm

If obama would like to go, I’d be willing to pack his chute for him…

Now, now, JKL2. We’ll simply wish him well with his speaking tour after he’s run out of Wahington on a rail this November. I doubt if he will give Bill Clinton much competition, however.

http://articles.cnn.com/2012-07-03/politics/politics_clinton-speaking-fees_1_speech-annual-financial-disclosure-report-bill-clinton?_s=PM:POLITICS

Bruno

October 15th, 2012
12:58 pm

Sure, he individually created all of the technology to the jump. I don’t think so.

If you study the History of Science, Tired, most innovation comes from individuals, not government-sponsored research.

JDW

October 15th, 2012
1:06 pm

@Rafe…”More evidence of the superiority of the private sector, versus collectivist Government.”

Interesting observation Rafe…so explain this…

Baumgartner’s feat is amazing but as Kyle points out to what end. Where is the industry that surrounds it? How many people were employed in its pursuit? What benefit’s to mankind have been reaped?

On the other hand, fifty years ago Kittinger as a part of the US GOVERNMENT Space Program achieved relative to time, comparative results. As a part of a program that has employed thousands, put men on the moon, opened our eyes to the universe around us and driven incalculable economic benefit.

Would that our politicians of today had the guts and foresight of those 50 years ago.

Bruno

October 15th, 2012
1:10 pm

In the world, of transportation, an Israeli inventor just created a bicycle made form hardened cardboard which sells for $20. It requires no maintenance, and is fully recyclable.

http://news.yahoo.com/cardboard-bicycle-change-world-says-israeli-inventor-090732689.html

One more piece of evidence that our futures depend on individuals, not collectivist governments.

Bruno

October 15th, 2012
1:16 pm

Baumgartner’s feat is amazing but as Kyle points out to what end. Where is the industry that surrounds it? How many people were employed in its pursuit? What benefit’s to mankind have been reaped?

JDW–I’ve listed several recent examples of individuals advancing technology without government help. In fact, as I pointed out above, the vast majority of inventions through the years, from the harnessing of electricity to the development of air travel have all been due to the efforts of individuals, not governments.

As a part of a program that has employed thousands, put men on the moon, opened our eyes to the universe around us and driven incalculable economic benefit.

See my 12:43, or read this article to see the costs, both human and financial, associated with NASA.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogers_Commission_Report

You really need to move beyond your blind ideology, JDW. It’s woefully out of synch with reality.

Gravy Train

October 15th, 2012
1:18 pm

Come on Kyle! We are still waiting for you to break down Willard and Eddie’s economic plan. What cuts will be made to offset the tax cuts? Who will pay the bills? It’s interesting that Willard can dig up an army of accountants to cook his books, but not one of them have come forward to support his “plan.” I say “plan” because real plans usually have details about how they will be carried out.
Also, what more can Willard do to Iran short of military action? Come on, Kyle, you can do it!

Gravy Train

October 15th, 2012
1:21 pm

The ditto-heads are outraged at how Fightin’ Joe dispensed Eddie Munster on national tv. How quickly they forget about Cyborg Dick literally shooting a guy’s face off?

JDW

October 15th, 2012
1:22 pm

@Bruno…”You really need to move beyond your blind ideology, JDW. It’s woefully out of synch with reality.”

And you need to learn to calculate NET VALUE. Sure you can blather about the costs associated with NASA but you leave out the benefits. What you would have us believe is that those benefits are outweighed by the costs and that is not the case.

Now pick one of those individuals that you found and show me one that created a meaningful industry that ultimately provided jobs and benefits to 10’s of thousand people…you might find one but not many. Almost every significant industry we have today was aided during it’s creation by Government. If you stop then we will have no new significant industries.

It is not I that is out of sync with reality it is you that have forgotten the lessons of the past and more importantly many of the things to which we owe our success.

Georgia

October 15th, 2012
1:23 pm

I thought it was a commercial for the new James Bond movie, SkyFall.

Bruno

October 15th, 2012
1:26 pm

Here you go, JDW, a chart which lists the annual budget for NASA.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget_of_NASA

In the past 10 years, we’ve dumped over $163,000,000,000 into NASA. Maybe you can give me some numbers regarding the economic “benefits” coming from the program. Or, as you say, ar they incalculable??

Bruno

October 15th, 2012
1:29 pm

Now pick one of those individuals that you found and show me one that created a meaningful industry that ultimately provided jobs and benefits to 10’s of thousand people…you might find one but not many.

Why don’t we start with Thomas Edison, then. I’d say the phonograph, light bulb, and motion pictures have a significant impact on our lives today.

http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bledison.htm

Road Scholar

October 15th, 2012
1:30 pm

Yeah , he mirror imaged the economy at the end of Bush II’s second term…..but the economy didn’t have a parachute! Can you say free fall!

And when the “parachute ” deployed, it didn’t bring the fall to a complete stop to rebound did it!

md

October 15th, 2012
1:32 pm

“What cuts will be made to offset the tax cuts? Who will pay the bills? It’s interesting that Willard can dig up an army of accountants to cook his books, but not one of them have come forward to support his “plan.” I say “plan” because real plans usually have details about how they will be carried out.”

If one were paying attention one would know that it is a “framework”, with details to be worked out by Congress……..what gets cut depends on who you send to congress in a couple of weeks. Romney said he wasn’t going to dictate what gets cut but rather allow congress to work together in a give and take format to achieve the needed results.

Now, if he wins and then proceeds to tell the other side that “we won” and has to push bills through using reconciliation, then one will know for certain that bipartisanship was not really wanted……kind of like the guy we have now.

Gravy Train

October 15th, 2012
1:32 pm

Willard’s policies are very much like Joseph Smith’s vaunted “Golden Seals.” Nobody has ever seen them. We just have to take his word for it. I guess the magic underwear is proof enough for them?

Bruno

October 15th, 2012
1:33 pm

Here’s a nice list of the top ten inventors of all time.

http://www.biographyonline.net/scientists/top-10-inventors.html

Other than Charles Babbage, I don’t believe any of these folks were directly employed by their respective governments.

Gravy Train

October 15th, 2012
1:35 pm

md: nice way of bloviating the point “We’ve got nothing”

Bruno

October 15th, 2012
1:35 pm

Here’s a nice list of 101 of the greatest inventions of all time. Maybe you can pick through and find a few that were the result of government sponsorship. I doubt if you will find many on the list, JDW.

http://technology.lilithezine.com/101-Inventions.html

md

October 15th, 2012
1:38 pm

“md: nice way of bloviating the point “We’ve got nothing””

You might try seeing the light by starting with understanding the framework…….or not, suit yourself.

Gravy Train

October 15th, 2012
1:40 pm

Heck, at this point I’ll settle for any proof of the existence of the people discussed in “The Book of Mormon” Supposedly, there was a tribe of people who God cursed with black skin (but mormons aren’t racists) in ancient North America. Where were they in the records of the Maya, Inca or Cherokee? Where were they when Columbus landed?

Gravy Train

October 15th, 2012
1:42 pm

How do some people not have a problem supporting a man that believes in Joseph Smith way more than he believes in them?

Bruno

October 15th, 2012
1:42 pm

You might try seeing the light by starting with understanding the framework…….or not, suit yourself.

md–It sure would be nice if there were a more intelligent class of Libs to debate on this board. There are a few over at Bookman’s, but none of them have the courage to come here. They’d rather huddle together in their own private echo chamber.

Gotta run. I’ll look forward to JDW’s list of significant inventions that came as the result of government sponsorship.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 15th, 2012
1:43 pm

Those people jumping off bridges are pansies.

Hillbilly D

October 15th, 2012
1:47 pm

Admittedly, my brain doesn’t work like everybody else’s here but maybe ol ‘Felix just did this because he wanted to. Nothing wrong with that and so what if it doesn’t lead to anything?

Speaking of inventions, there’s a book out by a guy (wish I could remember his name or the name of the book) and he goes into inventions that changed the world most. At or near the top of his list is the washing machine. Me, I’d put the flush toilet up there, too.

getalife

October 15th, 2012
1:51 pm

He tested a new space suit so they can stay in space longer. It passed the test.

sailfish

October 15th, 2012
1:52 pm

Ahhh..the island of misfit bloggers, howdy y’all? I see bruno has landed with his ego fully intact; it never really is the gov’t versus private sector, it’s both working in conjunction with each other, keep that in focus. I’m kind of glad that we have food safety inspections or air traffic controllers, all gov’t stuff.

getalife

October 15th, 2012
1:57 pm

thompson’s son said they will send our President back to Kenya.

This is the kind of crap you cons love.

md

October 15th, 2012
1:59 pm

Working together….yes, but one also needs to remember that one (private sector) pays for everything……and when gov’t goes past the imaginary line and gets too big then the drain on the private sector deters growth……

md

October 15th, 2012
2:01 pm

Gravy, simple question for you…..how do you know J. Smith and the mormons are wrong???

Don’t tell me what you believe, tell me what you know and how you know it…….

getalife

October 15th, 2012
2:03 pm

President Obama 49 %

mitt 46%.

If our President is so bad like you cons say, why is he winning?

sailfish

October 15th, 2012
2:06 pm

“yes, but one also needs to remember that one (private sector) pays for everything”

Well….not exactly, didn’t we do a massive bank bailout not too long ago?

md

October 15th, 2012
2:07 pm

“Well….not exactly, didn’t we do a massive bank bailout not too long ago?”

And the gov’t got it’s money where exactly??

Georgia

October 15th, 2012
2:10 pm

Shouldn’t they have tried that space fall stunt with a monkey first, before we risked a human?

sailfish

October 15th, 2012
2:12 pm

“And the gov’t got it’s money where exactly?”

I don’t know – printed some more or another IOU on the deficit tab.

getalife

October 15th, 2012
2:24 pm

Looks like the best way to fight the taliban is to build schools.

Malala sparked the change in Pakistan.

She got shot in the head at point blank range and survived.

Pakistan’s government should build more schools.

Gravy Train

October 15th, 2012
2:24 pm

md: There is no archaeological, genetic, geological, proof of their claims. Plus, look at the real history of Joseph Smith. I guess baptizing dead people and claiming to be a priest because another mormon laid his hands on you or the whole magic underwear thing? Oh, and they claim to be Christian and yet they have disobeyed at least two of God’s commandments in forming their cult. Adultery is bypassed by polygamy. They have put Joseph Smith before God. “There will be no others before Me.” direct quote from the Bible.

Kyle Wingfield

October 15th, 2012
2:25 pm

getalife @ 2:03: And if D turnout is 9 percentage points higher than R turnout, as in the ABC/WaPo poll you cited, Obama will probably win. Probably.

Any given poll at this point reflects the pollster’s opinion of what the electorate will look like — which is why I prefer to focus on averages of several polls. And those show a tie nationally and a statistical tie in pretty much all the swing states.

JDW

October 15th, 2012
2:29 pm

@Bruno….

I have seen estimates from $5 in benefit for every dollar to $14 in benefit for every dollar. A fellow named G. Scott Hubbard who is a professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University and a former director of the NASA Ames Research Center has studied the question more than most and he pegs it at $8 in benefit for every $1 spent.

Now even at the low end those are impressive returns.

These things have a cumulative effect and your myopic path of slashing costs and hounding “Big Gubment” is nothing but a drag of the real economy. Go back and take a look at how we got from an Agrarian society to the world’s leading economy…by rejecting most of the things you preach.

JamVet

October 15th, 2012
2:31 pm

Had the “free market” (LOL!) run NASA for the past five decades we would have had hundreds of dead astronauts.

They DO NOT have the right stuff…