How to free-fall through the sound barrier.

On his record breaking free-fall Felix Baumgartner broke the sound barrier. This clip explores the science behind how Felix and the team did this.

For Felix Baumgartner to skydive from higher than anyone has ever dared he must also do something no human has ever done: free-fall though the sound barrier. In a computer animation it looks straightforward enough, but the reality is no one knows if this is possible. To be able to go supersonic Felix will have to break through the transonic wall; at this moment some parts of his body begin to go supersonic while other parts remain sub-sonic. This could cause violent vibrations which could damage his organs or even kill him.

Teacher Notes

This clip could be used to stimulate discussion about gravity, free fall, air resistance and terminal velocity. Ask the students if they can they think of other examples of attempts on world records where science has played a part and the person doing the project put themselves in danger?

This is the last of six clips from ‘The Science of Space Dive’ and this clip could be used in conjunction with the others.

Curriculum Notes

This clip could be relevant to teaching Science at KS3 and KS4 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and at National 4/5 or Higher in Scotland.