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A plummet from the edge of space


Felix Baumgartner will leap from the edge of space and fall faster than the speed of sound
Felix Baumgartner will leap from the edge of space and fall faster than the speed of sound

Staff writers

September 30, 2012 — Felix Baumgartner will take one small step out of his space capsule then make one giant leap -- 37 kilometres above the earth.

"I feel like a tiger in a cage, waiting to get out." - Felix Baumgartner
"I feel like a tiger in a cage, waiting to get out." - Felix Baumgartner

Felix Baumgartner will leap from the edge of space and fall faster than the speed of sound.

The Red Bull Stratos capsule is ready and a date is set: October 8.

But near perfect weather conditions are needed. Fortunately early autumn weather is one of the best times of the year to launch stratospheric balloons.

The jump had been delayed while the capsule that will lift 43-year-old Baumgartner underwent repairs and testing. 

The vessel, which weighs just a little more than a Volkswagen Beetle, was damaged after a hard landing following Baumgarnter's last test jump back in July.

Baumgartner, an Austrian extreme sport athlete and the Red Bulls Stratos team have been preparing for years to break the record for highest-altitude jump, eclipsing a mark set more than 52 years ago.

While freefalling Baumgartner will be travelling as fast as a speeding bullet. 

If all goes well with the jump, the Red Bull Stratos team will have broken several records such as highest speed in freefall, highest jump, highest manned balloon flight and longest freefall.

"As a skydiver I have competed 2500 jumps, so jumping is my business. Just before I set off I will know that I am heading home." - Felix Baumgartner
"As a skydiver I have competed 2500 jumps, so jumping is my business. Just before I set off I will know that I am heading home." - Felix Baumgartner

"Fear is always a big thing in this project because we are going up to 120,000 feet (36,500 meters) in a really hostile environment and you need your capsule, your equipment, the space suit -- you have to rely on your team, and all this has to work together," said Baumgartner.

"And of course if you are sitting in that capsule all by yourself fears come up; but I have so much confidence because we did so many tests in the past."

Though some may few the jump as just a daredevil's stunt, the rush is only a part of what fuels Baumgartner and his team at Red Bull Stratos.

"I love the challenge, and trying to become the first person to break the speed of sound in freefall is a challenge like no other. But that's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what motivates us," said Baumgartner. "Red Bull Stratos is an opportunity to gather information that could contribute to the development of life-saving measures for astronauts and pilots -- and maybe space tourists of tomorrow. Proving that a human can break the speed of sound in the stratosphere and return to earth would be a step toward creating near-space baillout procedures."

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