Austrian Felix Baumgartner is set to challenge two amazing skydiving records later this year, as he attempts to jump from the edge of space, setting a new record for highest altitude, and while in free fall, he hopes to break a 50-year old speed record, by breaking the sound barrier.
Sponsored by Red Bull (Who else?), Baumgartner hopes to ascend to 120,000 feet with the help of a giant balloon filled with helium. The 600-foot wide balloon will carry a specially designed canister up to where the atmosphere is thin, with Baumgartner tucked away inside. It is estimated that it will take roughly three hours for the skydiver to reach the designated height, at which time he’ll rotate the capsule’s door open and leap out, setting the new record for high altitude jump in the process.
He’ll then proceed to free fall for some time, and with the air so thin at that altitude, Felix’s support crew expects him to reach supersonic speeds in about 35 seconds or so. If their calculations are correct, he’ll set a new speed record as well. As he descends, He could drift as much as 150-200 miles from his starting point. The team hopes to prove that an astronaut could survive a similar jump were they forced to abandon a spacecraft on re-entry.
As of now, there is no target date set for when he’ll make the jump. The team is hoping that it will happen this year, but they are still clearing some logistical hurdles. They will be conducting a number of test jumps at lower altitudes while they work out the final details and look for a proper weather window to make the leap.
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