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Baumgartner breaks world record for highest, fastest free fall [UPDATED]

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   Oct. 9, 2012 at 11:30 AM   |   Comments

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Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Update (October 14, 1:42 p.m.)

Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner passes 120,000 feet and is moments away from his free fall.


Update (October 10, 1:40 p.m.)

Due to weather concerns, the soonest a second launch attempt will come no sooner than Sunday.


Update (October 9, 2:00 p.m.)

Tuesday's attempt at launch has been aborted, due to high winds that would endanger the balloon and capsule as it attempted to begin its 22-mile journey up.

Original post follows

Humans, at least the ones with the daredevil gene, keep pushing the boundaries on higher, faster, further.

Tuesday, with the help of the Red Bull Stratos mission, skydiver Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner is looking to break a few of records by going higher and faster than any human has gone before, at least without the aid of a vehicle.

After a brief delay due to weather, the preparation for the mission was underway Tuesday morning to lay out the balloon that will take Baumgartner more than 22 miles (36.5 km) above Roswell, New Mexico--to the very edge of Earth's atmosphere.

If all goes according to plan, Baumgartner will jump out of a pressurized capsule into a near-vacuum atmosphere, accelerating from zero to 690 miles per hour in just 40 seconds.

While the ascent to 120,000 feet will take three hours, the return trip to Earth will happen in just 10 minutes.

He'll be wearing a specialized space suit to protect his body from the pressure of falling at supersonic speeds, but if he fails to get into an exact "delta position" (hands at his side an his head low), he could begin to spin uncontrollably.

“If something goes wrong, the only thing that might help you is God,” Baumgartner said. “Because if you run out of luck, if you run out of skills, there is nothing left and you have to really hope he is not going to let you down.”

The current record was set in 1960 by Air Force Colonel Joseph Kittinger, from a height of 102,800 feet.

Watch the live stream of the free fall (technically, with a 20 second delay, in case of a tragedy):


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2012: The year in space
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Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner lands safely on Earth after breaking the world record for highest and fastest free fall from over 120,000 feet. Activity lead Bobak Ferdowsi, who cuts his hair differently for each mission, works inside the Spaceflight Operations Facility for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California on August 5, 2012. The Curiosity robot is equipped with a nuclear-powered lab capable of vaporizing rocks and ingesting soil, measuring habitability, and potentially paving the way for human exploration, and was designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes. UPI/Brian van der Brug/pool
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