Felix Baumgartner: Everything You Need to Know About His Supersonic Free Fall

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Felix Baumgartner: Everything You Need to Know About His Supersonic Free Fall
Handout/Getty Images

Whether or not you think Felix Baumgartner is crazy—which, more than likely, you do—he's still going to attempt to shatter a record on Tuesday morning.

And despite the fact that failure could result in serious bodily injury and/or death, he's going to do it anyway.

The Austrian daredevil's goal is to break the world record for the highest-ever free fall. There's a reason that people tend to put a cap on the heights from which they're willing to jump—mainly because falling too fast from too high can kill you—but Baumgartner is going for it anyway.

He will jump from a balloon 23 miles above the surface of the Earth, according to Fox News, about 36,576 meters above New Mexico. If he succeeds, he will break the sound barrier.

UPDATE: Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 1:56 p.m. ET by Jessica Isner

According to the BBC, the one thing that could get in the way of Felix Baumgartner's supersonic free fall has indeed interfered: Mother Nature. 

The winds in New Mexico haven't died down enough on Tuesday in order for the 23-mile jump to take place. 

Men's Health confirmed the news via Twitter:

 

 

The jump could be attempted on Wednesday. 

---END OF UPDATE---

Currently, Joseph Kittinger holds the world free-fall record. According to National Geographic, he fell 19.5 miles in 1960.

According to Ryan Owens and Gina Sunseri of ABC News, Baumgartner will will reach his starting point by riding on a capsule that is attached to a 55-story balloon. Once he jumps, he will accelerate to 690 miles per hour within 35 seconds and will fall for about 10 minutes before his mission is complete.

ABC News offers more perspective on exactly what Baumgartner, 43, is trying to accomplish:

This feat could ordinarily only be accomplished by a supersonic jet, or perhaps the space shuttle. But the 43-year-old daredevil believes he can do it using only his body.

Among the risks Baumgartner will face, according to ABC News, are:

  • Life-threatening cold
  • Extreme changes in temperature
  • Bursting lungs
  • Boiling blood

Though most people would prefer to avoid putting their bodies through the kinds of rigors reserved for state-of-the-art technology and machinery, Baumgartner fears nothing. He's already conquered the kinds of jumps that would make normal people shudder, but this one takes the cake as one of the highest jumps ever attempted.

According to the BBC's Jonathan Amos, "Others who have tried to break the existing records for the highest, fastest and longest free falls have lost their lives in the process."

Amos' analysis of Baumgartner's task comes with several in-depth diagrams that describe his mission, one of which (below) illustrates the suit the daredevil will wear while he attempts this feat. This is where the science comes in.

Source: Red Bull

According to ABC News, Baumgartner is hoping that whether he succeeds or fails, his experience will help to inform NASA's spacesuit design. This jump could have a lot to teach those scientists. 

There are some mitigating factors that could compromise Baumgartner's jump attempt on Tuesday, one of which is the wind situation in New Mexico. The balloon won't launch until at least 11:30 a.m. ET, and it won't launch at all unless the winds get down to 3 mph, according to ABC News.

If the jump does happen, you can watch live video coverage on NationalGeographic.com.

And if Baumgartner succeeds, we'll have only this to say:

(GIF via BreakingBadGif.tumblr.com)

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