Skydiver aims to break sound barrier in jump from ‘edge of space’

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, October 9, 2012 9:21 EDT
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Pilot Felix Bumgartner sits in his capsule during preparations for the final manned flight of the Red Bull Stratos Mission in Roswell, New Mexico, USA on October 6, 2012. Photo: Courtesy, Red Bull Stratos.
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Update (below): Record-setting skydive delayed until Wednesday

Skydiver Felix Bumgartner is scheduled to attempt something on Tuesday that’s never been tried before: he hopes to break the sound barrier without the aid of a vehicle.

In what’s being billed as a freefall from “the edge of space,” Bumgartner will exit a specially designed capsule after it reaches about 23 miles up, some 120,000 feet high, then freefall at nearly 700 miles per hour before deploying his parachute.

The ride up is expected to take more than two hours, but at those speeds on the descent, he should be back on the ground in about 20 minutes. The jump is going to be broadcast live, as well: event sponsor Red Bull has set up a website with streaming video via YouTube. Even Bumgartner’s suit has cameras on it.

The launch was originally scheduled to take place Monday morning, but had to be delayed due to weather. Another short delay the next morning pushed the launch window back several hours, but the team still hopes to launch Tuesday.

“Of course I’m afraid of dying, because I worked so hard to reach this level,” Bumgartner told CNN, reflecting on five years of training that led to this point. “You know, I’m living a good life. I think the most important thing I’m doing is to come back alive.”

The prior record for highest skydive is held by Col. Joe Kittinger, who jumped from more than 102,000 feet in 1960.

Update: Record-setting skydive delayed until Wednesday

With just one minute to go before launch, Bumgartner’s mission controllers decided to postpone the record-setting skydive for one more day due to unpredictable wind speeds.

This video is from CNN, broadcast Tuesday, October 9, 2012.


Photo: Courtesy, Red Bull Stratos.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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