Supersonic Free Fall From Edge Of Space One Step Closer

The exact date for Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic free fall from the edge of space is not yet scheduled. But this week, the Austrian daredevil jumped from 18 miles above the planet, coming one step closer to setting the record for the world’s highest skydive.

Baumgartner, an expert skydiver who started jumping at age 16, hopes to become the first human to break the sound barrier without a plane. To do that, he will have to set a world record 125,000-foot dive (that’s 23 miles) armed with gear that will slow him down and keep him alive during the nearly six minute free fall.

Part of a Red Bull-sponsored event, Baumgartner’s 60-pound parachute system includes a main chute, an emergency backup and an oxygen system. Should he go spinning out of control, a stabilizing drogue, also along for the ride, will be deployed.

Make no mistake, this is no weekend skydiver out for a joy ride.

“The pressure is huge, and we not only have to endure but excel,” Baumgartner told ABC News before his jump reports Space. “We’re excellently prepared, but it’s never going to be a fun day. I’m risking my life, after all.”

The previous record, jumping from nearly 103,000 feet, was set on August 16, 1960, by Air Force Col. Joe Kittinger who is serving as a consultant on this latest attempt that hopes to be a supersonic free fall.

Here is an animation from Red Bull Stratos that tells the story

[Image via Red Bull]