Red Bull was dominating the sports world on two sides of the globe yesterday, both in the air and on the ground.
Over in Korea it was Sebastian Vettel and the Red Bull Infiniti F1 team taking the win and the second spot on the podium at the Grand Prix of Korea. This win puts Vettel back in the 2012 championship lead, 6 points ahead of this weekend's third place finisher Fernando Alonso with four races remaining (India, Abu Dhabi, Austin, TX and Brazil). If he were to win the championship it would be Vettel and Red Bull/Infiniti's third world title in a row. Second place went to Mark Webber and his Red Bull/Infiniti machine solidfying his fifth place in the standings only one point behind Lewis Hamilton.
Vettel now also takes the lead on the number of race wins this season with four. One more than his chief rival Alonso. F1 returns in two weeks in India.
On this side of the planet, and more importantly in the grand scheme of things, Felix Baumgartner successfully completed the Red Bull Stratos mission.
Felix lept from the Red Bull Stratos balloon at a height of more than 128,000 feet reaching a speed of 833.9 mph, 1.24 times the speed of sound before landing in the New Mexico scrubland with a touchdown.
I watched this event on the Discovery channel in HD more intently than I have nearly any TV program in a long, long time (perhaps since "Shock and Awe" about a decade ago?). Some will criticize it as only a TV stunt a la an Evil Knievel jump or the like but in fact it truly had some deep science and experimental impact. From materials and space suit design to high altitude escape procedures. You can bet a lot of people at the military around the world were watching this. Seals and other special forces do HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) training and insertions on a regular basis but this may open up a new world for them--literally and it also allows designers more options for the escape of manned spacecraft at higher altitudes than ever before. As stated here before, the critical, boundary pushing research and experimentation in the Space industry is no longer taking place at the governmental level....its now in the hand of private entities.
Just a reminder that this blog brought up this story as well as that of the former recordholder Joe Kittinger (who will still hold the record for longest freefall as Felix pulled his chute earlier than expected due to a fogging/icing helmet) and his amazing history (test pilot, fighter pilot, POW, engineer, etc.) as retold in his autobiography "Come Up and Get Me", months ago. Just one example of how I generally like to think that we are a tad bit ahead of the curve here.