Daredevil set for supersonic skydive over New Mexico

Tue Oct 9, 2012 1:52pm EDT
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By Irene Klotz

(Reuters) - An Austrian daredevil made last-minute preparations on Tuesday for a death-defying skydive from a balloon 23 miles over the New Mexico desert after delays due to winds earlier in the day.

Felix Baumgartner, a 43-year-old helicopter pilot, hot-air balloonist and professional skydiver, would break a longstanding altitude record and the sound barrier if the jump goes forward.7

Baumgartner's team said the launch of a massive but fragile helium balloon that would carry him up to 120,000 feet above Roswell, New Mexico, had been scheduled for about 1:15 p.m. EDT (1715 GMT).

The launch was delayed by about four hours because of winds above the launch site, the team said in a statement.

After they died down Baumgartner, wearing a pressurized spacesuit, prepared to climb into a specially made capsule that would carry him into the stratosphere.

"(The) countdown is officially back on," Sarah Anderson, a member of Baumgartner's launch team, told Reuters by e-mail.

If the launch proceeds it would take about 2.5 to 3 hours to reach 120,000 feet.

The 30-million-cubic-foot (850,000-cubic-meter) plastic balloon, which is about one-tenth the thickness of a Ziploc bag, cannot handle winds greater than 6 miles per hour (9.7 km per hour).   Continued...