Energy drink Red Bull has long been associated with extreme sports, sponsoring winter sports as well as windsurfing, cliff diving, rock-climbing, Formula One and even its own Air Racing series.
Its latest mission was to take a renowned extreme sportsman to the edge of space and drop him from a distance of around 120,000 feet - that's 23 miles. The idea was to break the record for the longest ever free fall skydive and hopefully make Felix Baumgartner the first human to break the speed of sound with his own body.
The attempt, dubbed Red Bull Stratos (http://www.redbullstratos.com/), followed a previous record set exactly 50 years go in 1960 by Joe Kittinger, a young US Air Force test pilot. On August 16, 1960, he made a jump from an enormous helium balloon 102,800 feet in the sky.
Austrian Baumgartner (nicknamed 'Fearless Felix'), whose previous records include crossing the English Channel in freefall wearing a 'flying squirrel suit', was united with Kittinger and the Red Bull team three years go to plan the mission. Red Bull Stratos is apparently the end result of a 15-year partnership with Baumgartner.
The Red Bull Stratos developed a 145-metre tall helium-filled balloon to carry Baugartner on a hanging platform to his jump altitude. He wore a pressure suit that could withstand the pressures of high altitude - initially developed for use in high altitude reconnaissance aircraft and space exploration. The suit protected Felix from expected temperatures of -70 and ensured he had a steady flow of oxygen during his ascent and descent. Red Bull posted several videos on its channel showcasing the preparation that Baumgartner and his team had to carry out to ensure that he didn't harm himself during the fall. Once Felix reached the desired altitude, he would likely freefall for 5 minutes and 35 seconds before his main parachute deployed.
The mission would deliver valuable learnings for medical and scientific advancement that would aid exploration of space in future years.
The Red Bull Stratos project would be documented by the BBC and National Geographic in a feature-length film called Space Dive. The brand also partnered with Nokia to create a bespoke app and to enable real time mobile streaming of the event, complete with Felix's heart rate before, during and after the jump. Microsoft provided the web streaming functionality and Riedel Communications provided the high altitude wireless communications system and video link to the onboard cameras.
The second installment of the Red Bull Stratos project took place on October 2012. Felix Baumgartner became the first skydiver to go faster than the speed of sound, reaching a maximum velocity of 83.9mph (1,343km/h). Baumgartner broke the record for the highest ever freefall when he jumped out of the balloon at 128,100ft (24 miles) above New Mexico, taking just under 10 minutes for him to descend.
The most recent attempt was on October 14th 2012, when Felix broke the world record for the higest ever freefall.
The YouTube video recieved eight million concurrent views. This prolific amount of exposure shattered the record for the most traffic to one live stream, previously held by NBC’s 2012 Olympics coverage. Not only did Red Bull Stratos eclipse that record, but it beat it 16 times over.