Man to jump from space to break a 50 year old skydiving record
Gap years and backpacking are often about extreme challenges. Many travellers seek out extreme sports experiences while away, but few will ever look to rival Austrian BASE jumping and skydiving extraordinaire Felix Baumgartner. Having made a name for himself by always going that extra mile for his sport, now Baumgartner's extra mile is taking him right up to the edge of space.
In 1997 Baumgartner made the headlines by breaking the world record for the lowest ever BASE jump, a jump of just 95ft, from the top of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Baumgartner has been all over the world on his extreme sports travels. Two years after the lowest ever BASE jump in Brazil, he was breaking world records again, this time for the highest ever jump. He leapt off the 1,479 foot Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a jump which took over two months of planning and required him to disguise himself as a businessman to gain access to the 88th floor.
For his next 'project' the intrepid adventurer has set his sights on breaking Joe Kittinger's record for the highest ever parachute jump.
In November 1960 Kittinger (pictured above (middle) with Baumgartner (left) at a press conference) jumped from a height of 102,800ft (over 20 miles) and remained in free fall for over four and a half minutes.
In the last 50 years his remarkable jump has become the stuff of legend and has stood as a line-in-the-sand for generations of extreme sports enthusiasts.
Joe Kittinger’s remarkable jump can be seen here:
Many have sought to repeat Kittinger's epic achievement over the last five decades since and all have come up short, but now, in a project dubbed Red Bull Stratos, Baumgartner believes he is finally set to go higher.
Baumgartner’s aim is to skydive from a pressurized capsule attached to helium balloon at a height of over 120,000ft, free falling for over five minutes in temperatures that could fall below -70°C. The jump will also make him the first person ever to break the sound barrier unaided, meaning his body will have withstand the force of a sonic boom.
Speaking to BBC News Felix Baumgartner admitted that nobody really knows what breaking the sound barrier will feel like: "The fact is you have a lot of different airflows coming around your body; and some parts of your body are in supersonic flow and some parts are in transonic flow. What kind of reaction that creates, I can't tell you."
Felix Baumgartner prepares for his jump
Baumgartner is now in making his final preparations for this amazing record attempt which will take place over the desert in Roswell, New Mexico, in the US.
The BBC and National Geographic will be filming the jump and cutting it into a 90-minute television documentary which will be screened shortly afterwards.
More information about the historic event can be found on the Red Bull Stratos website or by checking out this short video about the project.
All photos of Felix Baumgartner supplied by and copyright of Red Bull Content Pool