THE BLOG
10/19/2012 12:28 pm ET Updated Dec 18, 2012

# How Could Felix Baumgartner Jump From a Height of 120,000 Feet Effortlessly?

This question originally appeared on Quora.

Answer by Abdullah Aloğlu, Aviation/Space Enthusiast

First of all, it wasn't an effortless jump. The jump was quite risky and things could have gotten messy easily (mostly due to weather).

In low air pressure, sky divers risk going into something called flat spin. In this position, the body rotates horizontally. An uncontrolled flat spin could have rendered Felix unconscious, his blood rushing to his extremities, including his head, which would have blinded him. To prevent this, Felix had a special parachute that would deploy automatically to help stabilize his descent.

Fluids in the human body start boiling above sixty two thousand feet (for more information, look up "Armstrong limit"), unless the person who's above that altitude has a pressure suit. Felix doubled that altitude, but before stepping into the capsule, he already had a helmet and his pressure suit on.

The air up there is cold and thin, so the temperature was an obvious problem. On top of that, as Felix plummets, he could have experienced -60 degrees C or lower. In such cold air, he would be unable to maintain the core temperature for the human body, which is 37 degrees C. However, Felix's suit was strong enough to keep him warm enough when the air was as low as -68 degrees C up there.

Another problem that might have occurred during the jump was the shock waves. As Felix was approached the speed of sound he'd face some serious forces (look for: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son...). Forces at that altitude could have endangered him and his pressurized suit. Physicist Louis Bloomfield said: "Felix will be colliding with the gas so fast that it can't flow out of his way because it effectively doesn't know that he's coming." Imagine that. Now, as far as I know, the team didn't come up with any precautions to prevent this from happening because the help came from the air itself. Since the air at that altitude is so thin and less dense, the shock waves were less powerful.

I'm not sure about his exact landing location, but my guess is that he wasn't that far off from where he took off. Following his landing, before he even detached his parachute, there were already few people around him, so my guess is he was fairly close to the location where he took off when he landed. I'm sorry I can't be more precise.

More questions on Red Bull Stratos Mission (October 2012):