Supersonic jump one for the ages

When we set our minds to it, we can do anything.

Austrian Felix Baumgartner proved that yet again recently when he became the first skydiver to go faster than the speed of sound and shatter the record for the longest free fall while doing it.

In 2005, Baumgartner determined to be the first skydiver to accomplish these goals. Budgetary and technical challenges delayed the project. 

Baumgartner teamed up with the man who set the highest, farthest and longest free fall record to date more than 50 years ago, retired Air Force Col. Joe Kittinger. 

Seven years later, and 65 years to the day after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier in an airplane, Baumgartner achieved his goal.

Just as when President John F. Kennedy set out to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth in the 1960s, many people never thought it would happen. Some say mainstream videos and television reality craziness has made us all but numb to exciting daredevil feats in real life.

But even as some people shrugged off the event, a record 8 million viewers watched the live streamed event on YouTube. That’s more live stream video views than the royal wedding and Olympics combined.

Baumgartner jumped out of a balloon more than 24 miles above New Mexico, free falling to reach a maximum velocity of 833.9 mph. He was on the edge of space.

We as a nation need to place more importance on the value of the sciences. Science pushes us forward as a society. It strengthens and diversifies our economy. It invents new industries and builds the future for our children.

Just this year, we have sent a man to the deepest part of the ocean and to the outer limits of the atmosphere, feats that push the boundaries of current technologies.

We need to instill in our children the drive to challenge themselves and push beyond what is known. That is how we bring the future to today.   

As Americans, we are proud to first put a man on the moon, explore Mars and the depths of the ocean.

In the last year, we’ve lost two highly recognizable and visionary people – Neil Armstrong and Steve Jobs. Watching Baumgartner rise out of New Mexico reminds us of the many more amazing people with great visions among us, and that dreams can and do come true.

We just need to set our minds to it.