Why is the red bull stratos mission so compelling?

Over 1 million people logged into YouTube to see the Red Bull Stratos mission launch on October 9th.  The launch was ultimately postponed due to weather conditions.  For those not familiar with the mission, it entails a stunt expert from Austria, Felix Baumgartner,  ascending 120,000 feet in a stratospheric balloon and making a free-fall jump toward earth at supersonic speeds before parachuting to the ground.  Baumgartner has the potential to break several records if successful including:  furthest free fall, fastest speed attained (breaking the sound barrier), and longest free fall flight.  Clearly he also is putting himself at great peril considering the complexity of the jump.

From what I've observed, when people become aware of the project they are quickly entranced.  As a sponsor of the project, Red Bull clearly sees the value in attaching their brand to this mission.  But personally I feel this transcends the typical daredevil or extreme sport stunt.

So, why are people so fascinated with the mission?  Will people always line up to watch when an individual stares down death?  Is it the scientific complexity that makes it interesting?  Do we miss the space program?  What do you think?  I'll be waiting for the launch.    


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