It seemed that nearly all of my friends on Facebook and Twitter this past weekend were newly initiated free fall fans. For the past eight months, Red Bull has been teasing us with CGI models and test runs of “Red Bull Stratos” – a mission to the “edge of space” –where athlete Felix Baumgartner would attempt a record-setting atmospheric free fall jump.
Years of planning and months of YouTube videos ended with success on Sunday, when Baumgartner jumped from a space perch approximately 120,000 feet above the earth. I can’t even begin to speculate what a project of this magnitude cost Red Bull, but it sure was a home run online. Red Bull has a strategy of sponsoring extreme sports, but this was an undertaking unlike any other. Red Bull Stratos trended on Twitter and the record jump captured national and local news.
And while this all seems very impressive, and admittedly, I tuned in for the live feed of the jump (the marketing folks at Red Bull are clearly genius), I can’t help but feel like I’ve stumbled into the movie “Idiocracy.” Not to say that the jump didn’t employ great scientific minds (it definitely did), but I find it odd to have an accomplishment of this nature sponsored by an energy drink. With recent cuts at NASA, scientific discoveries and profit may be more directly linked than ever before. I guess I should get used to this. After all, it’s only so long until Red Bull sponsors the next mission to Mars.