Richard Branson has hinted that Virgin may attempt to take Felix Baumgartner’s record for the highest-ever freefall jump.
The Austrian dare devil won the title with a successful 128,000ft, 833mph jump on Sunday.
Sponsored by Red Bull, the jump was watched by more than 8 million people live on YouTube. The feat made Baumgartner the first made to break the speed of sound without the aid of a vehicle.
But now the Virgin mogul has revealed he was once approached with an even more audacious idea.
Branson said Virgin was once asked to use its SpaceShip One craft to attempt a jump for 400,000 feet – more than three times as high as Red Bull’s meticulously planned mission.
Writing on his blog, Branson explained:
Back in 2005 we were approached by someone who wanted to hire SpaceShipOne to jump from 400,000ft to beat Joe Kittinger’s original record.The idea was that the spaceship pilot and the jumper would both be in spacesuits and the spaceship would fly up unpressurised. The pilot would have life support for the return descent and the parachutist would simply jump out at the top of the spaceship parabola.
Such a record is theoretically possible from an unpressurised spaceship with the remaining crew wearing life support. However, the timing wasn’t right as SpaceShipOne was being placed in the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum.
But now Branson has hinted me might try to take the title away from the fizzy drink company.
“The technology of space travel and exploration is moving forwards every day,” he writes. “And we look forward to taking on new challenges as we move closer towards commercial space flight. Who knows, the next record leap could one day be from Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.
‘Haven’t had a challenge myself for a while. Could be fun for Virgin to give Red Bull a run for their money.”
We’ll file this one in the ‘we’ll believe it when we see it’ folder for now – but don’t be surprised if he does give it a go.
By Michael Rundle/ Huffington Post UK
Source: Huffingtonpost UK