Friday, November 16, 2012

Might As Well Jump!

Finally I get to finish the story of the camping weekend!  

The journey home was always going to be eventful.  I had spent the previous week hearing about the escapes of Felix Baumgartner and his attempt to break the speed barrier in freefall and complete the record highest parachute jump - from over 128,000 feet!

Everything about it fascinated me, and it really became my 'man on the moon' moment.  I felt like a real hole had been left when NASA finished the space shuttle program, but here was an extreme sports enthusiast (crucially, backed by Red Bull) who was certainly plugging that gap!  It was a real space program too!

During the midweek there had been a planned launch.  The internet came into play like I have never seen before, and I spent most of the day following events live on YouTube and Twitter.  Sadly the wind picked up and the launch was postponed.  And eventually rescheduled for Sunday.  Which was what presented us with our logistical dilemma!

I had just acquired a Samsung Galaxy S3 mobile phone and it would see its first real test on this day!  After a weekend away it was dead.  We had the laptop with us so I plugged it in to charge.  After a short while I tried to use the phones 3G connection to tether to the laptop.  Sadly the video wouldn't stream.  I caught a tweet from Stan Collymore (of all people) that said BBC News were about to broadcast the jump.  And I remembered I had downloaded an app which claimed to stream TV.  I fired it up, grinned like a kid at the sight of its logo on the channel list, and squealed with glee as the video streamed.  And continued to steam, even when going through the Dartford Tunnel!

I held the phone forward so we could all watch, and we gasped as Felix stepped off the ledge of his capsule.  And then halfway down his decent a horrible noise came from the caravan and we shortly found ourselves on the hard shoulder with a huge section of tread missing from a tyre.

I caught wind that he'd landed, but our evening ended up dragging on much much more - and involved a rolling road block on the M25, the caravan being towed off it, us waiting for yet another tow, McDonalds in Enfield, and finally a tow home.

Turns out that Felix's jump had over 7 million people watching it live on YouTube, and was certainly one of the most unbelievable things I've ever seen.  You felt like everyone was watching, supporting, and cheering him on.  Its great to see that there's still people pushing boundaries, doing things that will inspire kids, and just generally doing 'cool space shit'.

If you missed it, this is the jump.  There are a fair few ads you have to close which is a shame, but it seems hard to find the full video online.

After the event there was a great documentary on the BBC.  Its called Space Dive, and its well worth watching.  It shows all the years of buildup and the troubles faced - and moments like when Felix accidently cut one of his chutes loose on a practice jump!

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