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Daredevil's free fall is postponed

October 05, 2012|By W.J. Hennigan
  • Felix Baumgartner performs a high-altitude test jump in Taft, Calif.
Felix Baumgartner performs a high-altitude test jump in Taft, Calif. (Luke Aikins / Red Bull )

Felix Baumgartner's attempt to set the world’s free-fall record at 23 miles has been postponed to Tuesday from Monday because of a cold front with gusty winds near Roswell, N.M.

Baumgartner will be carried skyward inside a pressurized capsule suspended from the largest balloon ever used in a manned flight.

Officials said that an attempt at the feat, the longest and fastest free fall, can be made only if winds on the ground are slower than 2 mph.

Wearing a newly designed pressurized suit and helmet, the Austrian native will test the threshold of his equipment as scientists, aerospace engineers, the Air Force and NASA study what it shows about the limits and capabilities of the human body bailing out from aircraft at ultra-high altitudes.

After several years of preparation and test jumps, Baumgartner, 43, is ready. “I feel like a tiger in a cage waiting to get out,” he said in a statement.

The jump is an effort to break a free-fall world record of more than 19 miles, or 102,800 feet, set by Air Force test pilot Joe Kittinger in 1960. The endeavor, called Stratos, is funded by energy drink company Red Bull. The company has paid millions of dollars to Southern California aerospace companies to pull it off, but it won’t say exactly how much.

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