All Resources

Stratos Jump Data Analysis

In this activity, teachers are provided with data from the Stratosphere Jump by Felix Baumgartner to use in a variety of ways.

On October 12, 2012, Felix Baumgartner ascended 39km to the stratosphere in a capsule carried by a balloon. At 39km, he stepped out of the capsule and fell to Earth.

On that day, Felix Baumgartner broke several records, including highest freefall and fastest speed in a freefall. He was also the first human to travel faster than the speed of sound without machine assistance.

Teacher Tip: 39km is the approximate straight line distance between Science World and the Britannia Mine Museum in Britania Beach, BC. This is a driving distance of 54.2 km (~ 50 minutes). You can mark this distance on a map or globe, to help students visualize the height.


  • Analyse speed, distance and time data, using graphs and calculations.

  • Interpret and identify key events on speed-time and distance-time graphs.


  • Per Student or Group:
    Stratos unofficial jump data (attached).
    Graph paper and/or computer software for graphing
    (Optional) Internet access to watch videos of the jump.

Key Questions

  • How can we describe the motion of a falling object?
  • What information is found on distance or speed vs. time graphs and how can it be used?

What To Do

These activities may be completed in any order. Teachers are encouraged to select from the suggested approaches to create a lesson that will best suit their students’ grade level, skills and background knowledge.


Stratos Jump Data.doc: Word File

NOTE: This is unofficial data that has been screen-captured from: Fly with Felix Baumgartner |YouTube 

  1. Watch a video of the jump. Without looking at the data, ask your students to sketch distance and/ or speed vs. time graphs of Felix’s motion.
  2. The data from the jump was collected every 2 seconds, for the first 5 minutes of the jump, and then every 10 seconds after that, until landing. The spreadsheet of jump data may be edited. You can give your students some or all of the data and you could ask them to analyze it by:
  • Calculating an average speed for the jump.
  • Calculating the acceleration.
  • Graphing distance vs. time.
  • Graphing speed vs. time.
  • Calculating and graphing acceleration vs. time.
  1. Interpret student-made graphs or use the pre-made examples from the attached data. There are several ways you might wish to use these graphs:
  • Use the graphs to describe the jump and label key moments including acceleration, deceleration, travel that occurred faster than sound, terminal velocity, parachute deployment, the transition from stratosphere to troposphere, and the landing.
  • Note key moments based on the relative size and direction of the forces acting on Felix.
  • Calculate speed by determining the slope at any point on an altitude vs. time graph.
  • Calculate acceleration by determining the slope at any point on a speed vs. time graph.
  • Calculate acceleration using the speed and time data.
  • Determine distance travelled, by calculating the area under some or all of a speed vs. time graph.


  • Felix’s maximum speed was 1,357.6km/h. If you were travelling at that speed, calculate how long it would take you to: a. Get from your home to your school. b. Finish a marathon (42.195km). c. Circle the Earth’s equator. d. Travel to the Moon.
  • A few seconds after jumping, Felix experienced a potentially dangerous spin. Use the video to estimate the period of his spin in rotations per second.
  • Sketch a diagram that shows the forces involved with the ascent of the capsule and balloon and/or Felix’s descent. Assume a mass of 1,360kg for the capsule and 110kg for Felix and his space suit.
  • Describe energy transformations that occur during ascent and descent. Estimate how much chemical potential energy is required for ascent. Discuss why not all gravitational potential energy is converted into kinetic energy during descent.
  • Imagine that you were planning this skydive. What is some of the information you would need to know to help you plan? What are some potential problems and how would you deal with them?
  • Further Extension: Plan a similar skydive 40km up from the surface of another planet or moon.
  • Discuss and explain several reasons for the changes to the speed of sound with increased altitude.
  • The helium balloon that carried the Stratos capsule up to the stratosphere has a maximum volume of 8.3 x 10^8L. At 39km above sea level, it could experience a temperature of -57 Degrees Celsius and a pressure of 0.00381atm. a. How many moles of helium are required to keep the balloon fully inflated under these conditions? b. Calculate the mass of this amount of helium. c. What volume of helium would the balloon have back on Earth? (Assume STP conditions.) d. Describe some properties of helium that make it a good choice for filling the balloon.
  • Felix made his jump from the stratosphere. Describe this layer of the atmosphere and discuss how it compares to other layers. You can include descriptions of height, gas composition, pressure, temperature and more.
  • What are some of the physical dangers in attempting such a jump? Compare Felix’s heart rate or breathing rate to the events of the jump.

Other Resources

Red Bull Stratos | Mission to the Edge of Space | Science 
Red Bull Stratos | Mission to the Edge of Space | Technology 
Summary Report | Findings of the Red Bull Stratos Scientific Summit 
University of Alberta | Buoyancy and high altitude ballooning: the Red Bull Stratos mission.
Mathematics Assessment Project | Interpreting Distance-Time Graphs