Madman-Skydiver Felix Baumgartner To Jump From 23 Miles Above Earth’s Surface

*Update: The jump has been postponed due to weather. A rescheduled date hasn’t been set yet.

On Tuesday, October 9, skydiver “Fearless” Felix Baumgartner will step into a pressurized, balloon-borne capsule and lift up into the sky until he reaches the 23-mile mark above Earth’s surface. And then he’ll step off the capsule and plunge.

It’s a project dubbed “Red Bull Stratos Mission to the Edge of Space“ that’s been in the makings for seven years, and it’s expected to break records for being the fastest, highest and longest skydive ever attempted. Baumgartner will free-fall for five and a half minutes, screaming down towards Earth at speeds expected to reach 600 miles per hour (Mach 1.2), making him the first human to break the sound barrier without the benefit of propulsion or projection. If all goes according to plan, he’ll pull his parachute a mile above the desert of New Mexico and float safely to the ground.

In an earlier life, Baumgartner got his chops as an Austrian paratrooper. He’s since become known for his daring human aviation exploits, like leaping into a 600-foot cave, off buildings and international landmarks, and most recently for his test jumps reaching 96,000 feet. According to the NY Times, this has been his “toughest challenge.” The complexity of the jump, which has required an entire team dedicated to the task, has been an obstacle, but more damningly, has been Baumgartner’s fear of claustrophobia. “During five years of training,” writes the Times, “he started suffering panic attacks when he had to spend hours locked inside the stiff pressurized suit and helmet necessary for survival at the edge of space.”

But that’s all behind him now, and within a day we’ll hear news of the most groundbreaking jump in skydiving history. Stay tuned.

Check out the Test Jump below:

By Bryan Schatz

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