Space Dive

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Fri­day, 9.30pm, BBC Knowl­edge When Aus­trian dare­devil Felix Baum­gart­ner rose to the edge of space on a bal­loon and jumped from a height of 39km to land safely on the ground last year, vi­sion of him calmly step­ping into the void cap­tured the world’s at­ten­tion. For many, the his­toric jump was a sci­en­tific break­through on par with the moon land­ing. What we didn’t see at the time is how close to disas­ter the mis­sion came, on the way up and on the way down. We didn’t see the con­flicts be­tween Baum­gart­ner and his team dur­ing four long years of prepa­ra­tion, or give much thought to the NASA-like tech­no­log­i­cal back­bone of the ex­pe­di­tion. This fea­ture-length doc­u­men­tary gives us the full story be­hind the space dive. From child­hood, Baum­gart­ner says, he has dreamed of fly­ing. He wants to fly higher, faster and farther than any hu­man has dared. But first he has to break a record that has stood for more than 50 years. You see, in 1960, test pilot Joe Kit­tinger vol­un­teered to test sur­vival at the edge of the Earth’s at­mos­phere. Wear­ing just a pres­sure suit, he sur­vived the 30.5km plunge back to Earth. Who bet­ter to men­tor Baum­gart­ner in his quest? Kit­tinger helps Baum­gart­ner break his record and be­come the first man to fall faster than the speed of sound.

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