After two delays, another attempt to break world free-fall record
The jump in which daredevil Felix Baumgartner will attempt to become the first free-falling human to break the sound barrier is set to take place in the morning in the skies above the New Mexico desert.
On Sunday, Baumgartner is scheduled to leap from a capsule dangling 120,000 feet, or 23 miles, above the Earth’s surface. The event, called Red Bull Stratos, is to be webcast on the event website beginning at 6 a.m. PDT and in the video stream above.
[Updated at 6:45 a.m. Oct. 14: Because of winds, the mission launch has been pushed back until between 8:30 a.m. and 9. a.m. PDT.]
Baumgartner’s mission was first set for last Monday and then for last Tuesday, but both attempts were canceled because of high winds. Officials have said an attempt at the feat can be made only if winds on the ground do not exceed 3 mph.
It is an endeavor, five years in the making, to break a free-fall world record of 102,800 feet, or 19 miles, set by Air Force test pilot Joe Kittinger in 1960.
The jump by Baumgartner, 43, is designed to test the threshold of his equipment and find out what it shows about the limits and capabilities of the human body bailing out from aircraft at ultra-high altitudes.
Clearly, Red Bull has things in mind besides scientific breakthroughs. The mission involves two dozen cameras, including a helmet cam, to catch the action and to deliver live Web streams. The Austrian company hopes its promotional investment reaps returns in drink sales.
Red Bull has paid millions of dollars to Southern California aerospace companies to pull off the mission, but it won’t say exactly how much.
Wearing a newly designed suit and helmet, Baumgartner will be carried skyward inside a pressurized capsule suspended from the largest balloon ever used in a manned flight. Most of the equipment involved was built by Sage Cheshire Inc., a small aerospace firm in Lancaster.
The pressurized capsule, weighing 2,900 pounds -- a little more than a Volkswagen Beetle -- will be carried by an enormous helium-filled balloon to an altitude of 23 miles near Roswell, N.M. The trip will take up to three hours, and temperatures will fall as low as minus 70 degrees.
Once Baumgartner jumps from the capsule, he is expected to become supersonic within 35 seconds and ultimately reach about 700 mph.
After free falling an additional five minutes, Baumgartner is supposed to deploy his parachute. About 15 minutes later, he should reach the ground. His descent is expected to last up to 20 minutes in all.
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