Felix Baumgartner plans to leap from nearly 23 miles above Earth. Here's why it's dangerous.
It's only by glancing out of the window when sitting in the comfort of an airline seat that you would know you are thousands of feet above the surface of the Earth.
Airlines these days cruise at around 35,000 feet, some higher and some lower, but without protection at these altitudes a human being cannot survive. It's a sobering thought that loss of cabin pressure at a typical cruising altitude of 35,000 feet would mean the pilots have just 30 to 60 seconds of useful consciousness to put on breathing apparatus or descend to below 10,000 feet to be able to operate the aircraft safely.
After that, judgement and ability is significantly and dangerously impaired. On October 8, Felix Baumgartner will skydive from roughly 3.5 times this height at 120,000 feet where the conditions are hostile and the human body isn't designed to work. If unprotected, he will have less than 6 seconds before falling unconscious. Yet thanks to modern technology, the risks to the frail human body can be minimized.