Red Bull Stratos

A couple years ago I first read about the Red Bull Stratos mission to have a man skydive from near the edge of space in an attempt to break the sound barrier during freefall. While the project was initially tied up for years in legal snafus I continued to keep an eye on the project. Then, this past summer I learned the mission was a go and I was immediately set on watching the record-breaking attempt.

While SEEING someone do such an extraordinary thing wouldn’t seem to be that big of a challenge, it actually ended up being tougher than one would think. For one, the weather conditions for the actual mission had to be so precise that the mission was scrubbed a number of times.

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Then, the day the team finally got the green light for the jump was on a Sunday morning, at the same exact time I teach at a local religious school. And while a lot can be said about the whole “children are our future” and whatnot, I really wanted to see a guy jump from space! Luckily the time it took for Felix Baumgartner to reach the optimal jump height was so long that I was able to make it home just in time for the jump. I am not ashamed to admit I carpooled with someone that day and made them pull up the feed on their iPhone as we drove home to make sure we didn’t miss his actual jump.

In the end we made it back to my apartment and my computer with minutes to spare. We saw Baumgartner do his final preparations, we saw the capsule door slide open, and we heard his last words before jumping… “Sometimes you have to be up really high to realize how small you are. I’m going home now.”

Overall, I thought it was an incredible event  and even more Red Bull Stratos was able to overwhelmingly make a presence across the social media world. Myself along with millions of others used the promoted hashtag ‘#spacejump’ to assemble tweets.

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And while I thought the event showed the power of streaming an event solely online, others thought the mission was more or less, a flop.  Discover Magazine said the publicity stunt wasted a huge opportunity by not teaching any historic context to its estimated eight million person audience on YouTube. Freelance space writer Amy Shira Teitel also believed that the project didn’t “transcend human limits” like the project advertised. Teitel argues that technology was what kept Baumgartner alive during his jump, not his human limits. In addition, she pointed out that during the nearly two-hour ascent Red Bull failed to do anything besides shots of Baumgartner on the way up and failed to talk about how the jump was happening on the 65th anniversary of the first human breaking the sound barrier.

While there are certainly many critics out there with similar views as Teitel’s, one thing can be said about the jump, it changed the game when it comes to online live streaming. Businesses and promoters now have a large-scale example of streaming proving that if something is advertised well, they can get quite a crowd.

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Posted on October 20, 2012, in Broadcast Journalism, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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