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Austrian skydiver and BASE-jumper Felix Baumgartner plans to break the sound barrier and make history in a record free fall scheduled to take place in Roswell, New Mexico, on Sunday morning. Dubbed the Red Bull Stratos project, the death-defying feat is sponsored by Red Bull and will be streamed live on the internet.
This mission was aborted last week due to high winds and is currently planned for Sunday morning, pending the right weather conditions.
Baumgartner hopes to reach a speed record of 690 miles per hour, and, if successful, it will be the highest (115,000 feet) and fastest skydive ever recorded.
He will jump from a space capsule that will be lifted nearly 23 miles above Earth by a balloon near Roswell. He'll spend five minutes and 35 seconds descending to Earth.
Baumgartner, 43, who's a former member of the Austrian special forces' aerial demonstration and competition team, has been training and planning for this jump for over five years, including multiple practice jumps similar to the one he'll attempt on Sunday.
|Felix Baumgartner practicing for his final jump in Roswell, New Mexico.|
"I do not care for the term 'daredevil,'" Baumgartner told ESPN the Magazine earlier this year. "I do not just show up and say, 'Hey, what the hell, let's jump out of a balloon from space today and see what happens!' Every jump I have ever made has been only after endless preparation and surrounding myself with the best people possible. Whatever we have done before pales in comparison to what we are doing here. I have an army of space legends."
The existing record was set by Joe Kittinger, then the test director and pilot for the U.S. Air Force's Project Excelsior, in 1960, when he jumped from a gondola nearly 20 miles high and reached speeds of 614 miles per hour. Kittinger will serve as the flight operations and safety director for Baumgartner's jump.
"It's been a long journey and Felix has a great team just like I did when I did my jump and we're all looking forward to a safe flight," said Kittinger.
Although Baumgartner will be wearing a $200,000 custom-made space suit and helmet for the jump, he is still at risk of many potentially lethal threats during his free fall, including spinning out of control, exploding lungs, or a condition known as boiling blood.
He says this will be the final jump of his career.