Skydiver Felix Baumgartner is getting ready in a couple of hours to take a plunge from the very edge of space at dawn today, when he’ll fall from 120,000 feet wearing a space suit, a helmet and a parachute. His jump time was to have been at 5 a.m. Pacific Time, or 8 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. However, when the jump time rolled around, Red Bull’s You Tube site announced a weather delay, with the earliest jump time to be at 7:30 a.m. Mountain Daily Time, or 9:30 a.m. EST.
The daredevil hopes to jump from a record-breaking altitude that’s more than three times higher than how high airliners cruise, and he hopes to be the first person to break the sound barrier without the aid of any machines, or for that matter, anything but his space suit. The fall will be broadcast live on Red Bull’s YouTube channel and at Red Bull’s website from beginning to end.
Baumgartner has been preparing for the record-breaking jump since 2010, and told CNN he is ready for his terrifying free-fall.
I’m not nuts. You know, our records are meant to be broken, and I’m a very competitive person. I like the challenge. Of course I’m afraid of dying, because I worked so hard to reach this level. You know, I’m living a good life. I think the most important thing I’m doing is to come back alive.
Here’s some more facts from him as he gets ready to head up:
1. He’ll Be Free-Falling at Horrifying Speed
At 120,000 feet, the air is thin and provides next to no resistance. After 40 seconds, Baumgartner will be free-falling at faster than 690 miles per hour. In comparison, the average cruising speed of a Boeing 747 is 570 miles per hour.
2. It’ll Take Two or Three Hours to Get Up There
Baumgartner will be in a capsule that hangs from a helium balloon on the ride up. Once he’s at 120,000 feet – the edge of space – he’ll climb from the capsule, jump off the step and crouch to maximize his speed.
3. It’ll Take Him About Five Minutes to Return To Earth
He’ll be falling 115,000 feet in fewer than five minutes and then deploy a parachute for his final 5,000 feet.
4. There’s a Lot That Can Go Wrong
Baumgartner and his team, sponsored by Red Bull, have practiced how to avoid his being trapped in a horizontal spin. He could also freeze to death. Temperatures at that height can be 70 degrees below zero or even less. Then there’s that space pressure suit. If it tears up, the atmosphere is so thin, his blood could vaporize. Oh, and let’s hope he doesn’t faint during that fast fall, because he’ll die if his parachute doesn’t deploy.
5. It Shouldn’t Batter His Body
Planners think breaking the sound barrier won’t hurt him too much, because he’s at such an altitude with so little air, sound waves should be barely transmitted.
6. He’s Focused and Ready to Go
Baumgartner, an Austrian helicopter pilot and former soldier, has jumped from landmarks like the Petronas Towers in Malaysia and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.
“You have to remember all the procedures. You know you’re in a really hostile environment. And you cannot think about anything else. You have to be focused. Otherwise, you’re gonna die.”
7. He’s Not Going Up in a Typical Balloon
The balloon is more than 500 feet tall, and will change shape and size when it rises. Meanwhile, Baumgartner’s spacesuit weighs 100 pounds and has sensors to record everything from speed to his heart rate. And cameras will transmit live images of the attempt.
8. It Takes Mental Preparation Too
Baumgartner wasn’t giving interviews Monday night, but performance coach Andy Walshe on Sunday said he’s mentally ready.
He knows that he’s rehearsed it and knows what to do. We want him in the right state of mind. We ask him to reflect on what he’s done, what he’s been through and what he’s achieving for himself personally, so he can relax and focus.
9. The Current Record Holder Helped Him Train
Col Joe Kittinger holds the record from 1960, when he jumped from 102,800 feet while on a Air Force mission. It’s 52 years later and Kittinger is there for advice and moral support and to tell Baumgartner what to expect.
There’s no way you can tell how fast you’re going, because there’s no visual cues.
10. Kittinger Isn’t Jealous of the Jump
The record holder says he’s “delighted” Baumgartner is going up, and says he’s “advancing science.”