current affairs

Thrill seeker hits the news with ‘That jump’ but what was it all for?

 “But I finally decided to jump.

 “But I finally decided to jump. And it was the right decision.” – Thanks for that Felix, it may have been the right decision for you but honestly, was it all really worth it? Have our lives been enriched because of it?

Thrill Seeking Waste of Money

The race for space may as well be over with the recession making so many countries plant their feet firmly on the ground. Surely, we all know enough about the universe to not need to send people into space which is a big waste of money. 43 year-old Austrian Skydiver Felix Baumgartner jumps from a hot-air balloon – so what? He’s just another thrill seeker wasting valuable resources that could have been used elsewhere, isn’t he?

Sound Barrier Broken

In a word, no. What this admirably brave Austrian did was so much more than that. Not only did he break world records, he broke the blooming sound-barrier. He also taught us all a lot about what the human body and mind can achieve. We can pop on a spacesuit and free fall at 833.9mph and survive! Our brains may be screaming at us saying ‘don’t do it!’ but Felix did do it, he leapt out of space. This man has achieved something completely against nature, against all common sense because he believed he could. All hope is restored in the strength of human will.

Rebuilding the dream

The big space race, the wonder of the late twentieth century. We were all going to be living on Pluto were we not? Boom, then along comes Obama and a global recession and the dream is shattered. Yes, I agree that the financial aspect of space research is a tad daunting but how important was the space race? What did it mean to millions of Star trek/Star Wars/Alien fans out there? Felix re-lit the Trekkie flames. Saying OK, I can no longer be an astronaut, I can’t make hand-love through a glass screen with a dying Vulcan but I can fly up in a hot air-balloon and jump out at 128,100 feet (Over 24 miles, bear in mind that Everest is only 5.47 miles high) above the ground with a camera on my head, allowing you to experience this with me. Felix jumped and he delivered.

Real Television

People talk about reality TV – which muppet is singing on X-Factor, who’s making love beneath the covers of the Big Brother house and even the Royal’s tieing the knot. Seriously, people turn off Pat Butcher, the Dingles and Simon Cowell and witness a man jump from space live. I mean come on, the man’s blood could boil and spontaneous combustion could take place!

I watched the jump from my living room, through my fingers and squinting eyes more or less frozen in fear and exhilaration. It was the best piece of TV I have ever seen, and it was real. It restored my faith in the nature of humanity, rekindled the excitement of space exploration whilst facing the unknown, life and death full on. Surely anybody who witnessed this breath-taking footage need not ask what the point of it was – Felix, a man, an ordinary human being jumped for nine minutes and three seconds from space.. (pull astonished face with mouth open and eyes bulging now)

…and now watch it again: