A clumsy Austrian astronaut overnight fell 40km from a capsule attached to a helium balloon in the upper stratosphere and miraculously survived by landing in a small can of energy drink.

Hey, what does the red button do? Yaaaaaaaaarrrrgggghhhhhhhh!

Forty-three year old Austrian Felix Baumgartner has set several precedents with his incredible survival feat, not the least of which being he is now the most interesting Felix since the popular but largely forgotten cartoon cat of the early-to-mid 20th century.

Incredibly, Baumgartner maintains that he actually meant to do the jump. By saying this, he has instantly become a pinup boy for a generation of people who believe that life is so dull, nothing is worth doing unless it nearly kills you.

There is a predictable backlash against the Austrian today from small-minded people who say the daredevil might have directed his taurine-fuelled bravado into solving world poverty, or even just building a nice library someplace.

Mean-spirited trolls on social networks say the exercise was little more than an expensive marketing stunt which will pay for itself 100 times over, despite the fact this highly technical scientific endeavour has vastly advanced humanity’s knowledge of tumbling from excessive heights.

The trolls argue that Baumgartner has garnered billions of dollars worth of free exposure on every major newspaper, website and TV show in the world for a sickly beverage laced with way too many icky chemicals and stimulants for the average healthy person.

Clearly, these critics are just jealous because they are too busy doing small-minded, trivial things like going to work and raising kids. They will never dream of travelling faster than the speed of sound with only a plastic suit bedecked in crimson bovine livery to protect them, because they have given up on all that is meaningful.

In a world where the highest mountain and the deepest seas have been conquered, Felix Baumgartner has reminded us all of the unstoppable human itch to promote products in dizzyingly dangerous new ways.

Truly this is a story of courage and bravado, a story which has no relation whatsoever to a fizzy drink that tastes like cheap deodorant and keeps half your brain awake all night while the other half drifts off from all the vodka.

Make no mistake, this is a grand day for human endeavour. That a person can start so high and fall incredibly so low - yet still survive - is an inspirational lesson for us all. Several Australian politicians are said to be among Baumgartner’s biggest admirers.

Comments on this post close at 8pm, mission control (AEST) time

Most commented


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    • Fiddler says:

      02:31pm | 15/10/12

      not quite sure if this is meant to be humorous. Of course he would have sponsors, I doubt he had enough cash to do it himself. Pretty sure your beloved AFL and cricket games are covered in sponsors logos….

    • Gratuitous Adviser says:

      06:34pm | 15/10/12

      Of course he needed sponsors.  I was listening to a British Scientist who said that the data they will obtain from this exercise will be invaluable for future rescues from space.  Sounds OK to me.

    • =============Vettel=> says:

      02:32pm | 15/10/12

      Maybe Julia Gillard should hire the RED BULL marketing team.

    • Steve of QBN says:

      02:32pm | 15/10/12

      So I’m guessing that you see this as a total waste of money and a stroking of ones ego?  It may well be but it didn’t cost me a cent unlike some other total wastes of money and strokings of egos I’ve seen lately.

    • Eskimo says:

      02:33pm | 15/10/12

      Only had to jog 2km when he landed to record the fastest marathon in history.

    • Sickemrex says:

      06:42pm | 15/10/12

      +1.195 internets Eskimo.

    • Baloo says:

      02:40pm | 15/10/12

      It reminded me that I’m not trapped.

    • Scotchfinger says:

      03:45pm | 15/10/12

      there’s still time to call off the engagement, Baloo. You’re young… tell her ‘it feels too soon’.

    • Andore Jr says:

      02:45pm | 15/10/12

      Like, seriously - was this piece generated by a random text program or what?
      One sentence it’s all a marketing exercise. Next sentence it’s gushing over genuine human achievement. Next sentence tries to tie in Australian politicians (? uh?)
      Another paragraph - trolls complaining about the jump; next sentence said trolls are raising children, this is somehow ‘trivial’ (is this like a double-sarcasm thing going on here, I don’t get it).

      Oh hey, for legitimacy, may I also add that several members of the Royal Family, Albert Einstein, and Jesus Christ, are said to be admirers of both letters, sentences, and opinion, all of which are featured in this comment.

    • Anthony Sharwood

      Anthony Sharwood says:

      02:55pm | 15/10/12

      Methinks someone skimmed the story a little too quickly. Either that or I had satire fail. Happened before, will happen plenty of times again

    • Mark says:

      03:22pm | 15/10/12

      Wow an author who replies to comments COOL Keep up the good work !!!  But don’t get to emotionally involved with trolls.

    • Kat says:

      03:23pm | 15/10/12

      Maybe they had too much red bull and couldn’t concentrate! raspberry

    • Nikki says:

      02:51pm | 15/10/12

      Pft, that’s nothing. This afternoon I will be attempting a visit to the local shopping centre, the interior of which resembles a scene from ‘The Walking Dead’. Where’s my sponsorship deal?

    • Anubis says:

      02:53pm | 15/10/12

      Meh - I prefer the original Felix (Ant if you did your research you would know that Felix the Cat made his first appearance in 1919).

    • Anthony Sharwood

      Anthony Sharwood says:

      03:01pm | 15/10/12

      But I did do my normal exhaustive Wikipedia research, hence naming Felix Cat as a EARLY-TO-MID 20th century cartoon kitty!

    • sunny says:

      03:16pm | 15/10/12

      Meh ..is what Sir Isaac Newton would have said about it too.

    • BMJ says:

      02:56pm | 15/10/12

      I could so slam down a red bull n vodka right now

    • St. Michael says:

      02:57pm | 15/10/12

      You need to stop pressing your tongue so hard against your cheek wall, Ant.  It’s not actually that funny to watch.

    • TheRealDave says:

      03:09pm | 15/10/12

      This kind of ‘research’ will come in handy once we start having space habitats in low earth orbit….and stuff…..

    • Byron says:

      06:54pm | 15/10/12

      On the money TheRealDave ,
      One of the problems with manned space exploration is that the tin can that they`re flying in has no means of escape if things turn ugly and it doesn`t matter how well You plan , design ,engineer and train for something , sometimes “shit happens” so it`s always good to have some kind of contingency plan . We`ve also got the developing field of commercial low orbit flights to consider .  While there`s still the re-entry velocity issue to consider in that application this has established that from 40km out it`s doable

    • sunny says:

      03:12pm | 15/10/12

      I definitely would have soiled my lederhosen.

    • Punters Pal says:

      03:31pm | 15/10/12

      I have no doubt, if Red Bull would have existed back in 1950s, Sir Edmund Hillary would have been sponsored by the named drink for appropriate fee and he would have guzzled a can of it on the summit.

      Looks like every death defying stunt or uselss human endavour these days does involve a can of Red Bull.

    • Pikes says:

      03:53pm | 15/10/12

      Funny about Hillary,Tensing Norgay got there first to take the photo,so he was the First,The kiwi is a fraud

    • iansand says:

      03:43pm | 15/10/12

      I think it is not just Red Bull slipping him a few bucks.  NASA is very interested in any reasonable plan to get astronauts back to Earth, and have been very helpfu’  Maybe the Dragon peopleand Virgin Galactica as well.

    • Woodsy says:

      03:45pm | 15/10/12

      It is my strong suspicion that it was the weight of his enormous cojones that allowed him to reach such colossal speeds…

    • Three Score and Ten says:

      04:58pm | 15/10/12

      Woodsy, not only the rather large cojoes, if it were me i’d have Super Glued the Khyber Pass just in case. On a scientific note i would hope he was wired up with some instrumentation to record the event when entering and exceeding the sound barrier.

    • stephen says:

      04:00pm | 15/10/12

      ... but how does he go to the toilet ?

    • pa_kelvin says:

      06:15pm | 15/10/12

      Carefully…... smile  Or very fast…....

    • KK says:

      04:55pm | 15/10/12

      I think what you missed is the esoteric symbolism in this stunt.
      a man jumps from 39km - travels at a speed of 1136km/h (or so stated by a spokeswoman) and falls to earth wearing a logo of a red bull, with a red and white parachute.

      The numbers are all of occult significance - they all reduce to 9, or 11/9.
      The color red symbolic of fire, representative of the masculine, Fire, the bringer of destruction, the symbolism of chaos and war.  This goes far deeper but I will leave it there.

      The bull represents Ba’al, its a bull with horns representing a crescent moon supporting the divine solar disc.

      The mans name Felix Baumgartner (or “Happy Tree Gardener”)

      Lastly, the man, falling back to base consciousness (earth) wearing the symbolic masonic colors of red and white.

      I don’t need to go into the esoteric meaning of these, do your own research, but it is replete with symbolism.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      06:18pm | 15/10/12

      Uuummm ....Can I get some of what your on.. smile

    • CAR105 says:

      06:30pm | 15/10/12

      ...and the world will end on 12/12/2012!!!!

    • Mattb says:

      05:08pm | 15/10/12

      was listening to Dr Karl on ABC radio talking about it, he had some interesting facts to share.

      One of them he was talking about was the balloon that was used. apparently it was made of a plastic material thinner than cling wrap, if it scrapped across the grass the blades of grass would puncture it. wouldnt want a bird to fly into it on the way up!!

    • stuart kay says:

      05:15pm | 15/10/12

      At least its not alcohol…....great mix sport and alcohol advertising…not
      We got rid of cigarette advertising, time to get rid of alcohol a bigger killer.

    • CAR105 says:

      05:59pm | 15/10/12

      Why would you call him clumsy? He has cojones which you obviously lack!!

    • Mark says:

      06:16pm | 15/10/12

      You are right Anthony, No-one should do anything.

      Back in the 50s and 60s, they were hurling men into space, through the sound barrier and the world watched, absolutely transfixed, stunned at the scale of what was being attempted.
      Today we witnessed the same. For an hour this morning, they watched stunned as a man floated into space and then flew back down.

      A man skydived out of space! How is that not enough for you,

      So what if Red Bull sponsored it, rather they spend the millions on this then on stupid internet ‘viral’ campaigns or some other run o’ the mill marketing idea.

      If a govt paid for it, people would complain about wasting taxpayers money, if a millionare did it, people would complain about rich fat cats wasting money.

      For crying out loud, just enjoy an awesomely ballsy piece of daring do.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      06:39pm | 15/10/12

      Ah Mark ,I think you missed the Satire in the article… Are you new to the Punch? Most of Ant’s articles are a bit tounge in cheek…. Read it again and you will see…. smile


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