Felix Baumgartner stood alone at the edge of space, poised in the open doorway of a capsule suspended above Earth and wondering if he would make it back alive.
Thirty-nine kilometres below him, millions of people were right there with him, watching on the Internet and marvelling at the wonder of the moment.
A second later, he stepped off the capsule and barrelled toward the New Mexico desert as a tiny white speck against a darkly-tinted sky. Millions watched breathlessly as he shattered the sound barrier and then landed safely about nine minutes later, becoming the world’s first supersonic skydiver.
“It was harder than I expected,” said Mr. Baumgartner, a 43-year-old former Austrian paratrooper.
“Trust me, when you stand up there on top of the world, you become so humble. It’s not about breaking records any more. It’s not about getting scientific data. It’s all about coming home.”
The tightly-orchestrated jump meant primarily to entertain became much more than that in the dizzying, breathtaking moment — a collectively shared cross between Neil Armstrong’s moon landing and Evel Knievel’s famed motorcycle jumps.
It was part scientific wonder, part daredevil reality show, with the live-streamed event instantly capturing the world’s attention. It proved, once again, the power of the Internet in a world where news travels as fast as Twitter.
The event happened without a network broadcast in the United States, though organizers said more than 40 television stations in 50 countries — including cable’s Discovery Channel in the U.S. — carried the live feed. Instead, millions flocked online, drawing more than 8 million simultaneous views to a YouTube live stream at its peak, YouTube officials said.
More than 130 digital outlets carried the live feed, organizers said.
It was a last hurrah for what some have billed as a dying Space Age, as NASA’s shuttle program ends and the ways humans explore space are dramatically changing. As the jump unfolded, the space shuttle Endeavor crept toward a Los Angeles museum, where it will become nothing more than an exhibit.
Baumgartner hit Mach 1.24, or 1,342 km/h, according to preliminary data, and became the first person to reach supersonic speed without travelling in a jet or a spacecraft. The capsule he jumped from had reached an altitude of 39,000 metres above Earth, carried by a 55-storey ultra-thin helium balloon.
Capture the Flag: Rebels & Rainbows 2015-07-02 5:24
The White House turned into a rainbow as the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal nationwide, bypassing state sovereignty. While the country is wooed with rainbow magic, have they now forgiven the government of their many trespasses? How concerned are they about human rights, while removing the Confederate flag in the south? Tearing down one symbol and lifting up another ...
Facebook looks to reduce white share of staff 2015-07-02 3:52
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has voiced a desire to transform the demographics of Facebook's employee base to better echo the company's billion-plus international users. However, Facebook's most recent diversity report revealed that white men continue to have a claim on positions at Facebook.
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New DOJ Statistics on Race and Violent Crime 2015-07-02 2:36 Numbers finally include Hispanics as an offender category.
Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute has just published a table of statistics on race and violent crime that she received from the Department of Justice. For the first time in figures of this kind, DOJ has treated Hispanics as a separate category rather than lumping them in with whites. These data cover all ...
Fanning the Flames of Another Black Church Arson Hoax 2015-07-02 0:57
America is still reeling from the horrific Charleston, S.C., massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that claimed the lives of nine innocent people.
The last thing the community and our country need are hysterical journalists compounding the pain with inflammatory reporting on an unsubstantiated “epidemic” of black church arsons.
On Monday, a Baltimore Sun lead editorial decried “a series of mysterious ...
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The rhetoric coming of Washington is pushing us dangerously close to a world changing scenario.
In the following episode of CrossTalk, Peter Lavelle discusses the way Russia and Putin are being framed by Western governments and mainstream media with guests including Chris Hedges. The dangers of ignoring historical context when reporting ‘news’ is examined, along with the pure ‘imperial hubris’ of ...