Red Bull Stratos back on track

A multimillion-Euro project masterminded by Red Bull may get underway as planned after a lawsuit would have almost ended the endeavour at an early stage.

The Austrian energy drink producer announced today (Mon) that it reached an out of court settlement with Daniel Hogan. The American claimed he approached the Salzburg-based company with the idea of breaking several world records by parachuting from a balloon at the edge of space already in 2004. Austrian extreme sport athlete Felix Baumgartner – whose various adventures have been backed by Red Bull over the years – has been preparing for his role in Red Bull Stratos for years. Baumgartner would reach a speed of around 1,100 kilometres per hour (kph) in what is considered his most spectacular stunt ever.

Red Bull explained last year it would put all planning activities for the project – which would see Baumgartner leaping out of a balloon in an altitude of 36 kilometres – on hold until the legal matter was sorted. Baumgartner hinted that Red Bull Stratos may be his last big endeavour. He made headlines by crossing the English Channel in freefall using a special fibre suit in 2003. The 42-year-old daredevil also set the world record for the lowest BASE jump ever by throwing himself off the outstretched hand of the “O Cristo Redentor” statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Red Bull Stratos was scheduled for late in 2010. Intricate preparations for the project have kept Baumgartner and a team of scientists busy for years before Hogan claimed Red Bull – Austria’s most powerful brand in the world – robbed his idea. The businessman claimed last October when he called on the California Superior Court that Red Bull officials were enthusiastic and already discussed investing several millions of US dollars into the “Space Dive” project he came up with.

Now Red Bull apparently sees light at the end of the tunnel as the powerful company announced that the feud was settled out of court. The Austrian firm headed by billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz has become a global player in the world of sport marketing. It hosts various fun and extreme sport events across the globe, publishes its own magazine called Red Bulletin and manages ServusTV, an Austrian TV station.

Baumgartner said: “I am struggling to find the right words to express my happiness, how relieved and motivated I am that it has finally come to an end.”

Around four billion cans of Red Bull went over the counter in the world in 2010. Red Bull announced in January its sales soared by 86 per cent in Turkey last year. The firm added that it achieved an increase of 80 per cent compared to 2009 figures in Japan last year, while 11 per cent more of its classic brand energy drink were purchased in the United States in 2010 than in 2009. At the same time, sales of its Simply Cola range remain low, according to reports in business newspapers.