Weather has pushed his jump back several times today, but the Austrian is now all set to attempt a death-defying, 23-mile free fall into the New Mexico desert at 1:30 pm EST. Baumgartner will be taking off in a ultra-thin helium balloon that will go up to three times the height of commercial jetliners, taking him into the realm of space called the stratosphere. There, he'll hop from the balloon into a pressurized capsule and begin the farthest free fall in human history, attempting to become the first skydiver ever to break the sound barrier in the process.
Baumgartner has taken two practice jumps to prepare for today. You can watch them, and learn a bit more about what today's jump entails, right here:
There's a crew of scientists and NASA men helping him out, but Baumgartner's success is by no means assured. He could tear his pressurized suit, which would expose him to a lack of oxygen and possibly cause his blood to boil, obviously killing him. He could fall victim to the fast speeds and spin out of control, which would make opening a parachute difficult. So this could get ugly. The good news, however, is that he's not just doing this for his personal glory: The jump will deliver valuable scientific and medical data, while possibly allowing NASA to certify a new type of space suit.
Watch it live right here:
UPDATE: Mission has been aborted for today due to gusty New Mexico winds. We'll follow this tomorrow and put this up again when they eventually do take off.
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