Skydiver plans freefall from the stratosphere

He says he’s hoping to gain useful information about the stratosphere for future astronauts, but we suspect it’s all just showing off.

Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgardner plans a jump from a capsule attached to a helium balloon at 120,000 feet – nearly 23 miles.

During the fall, which is likely to last over five minutes, Baumgardner will almost certainly break the sound barrier, hitting a speed of up to 700 miles per hour. He will be protected by a full-pressure spacesuit.

If he succeeds, he’ll be setting four new records – the altitude records for freefall and manned balloon flight, the longest-distance freefall and the freefall speed record.

“This is truly a step into the unknown. No one can accurately predict how the human body will react in the transition to supersonic speeds,” said Baumgartner. “But we’ve got to find out. Future aerospace programs need a way for pilots and astronauts to bail out at high altitude in case of emergency.”

Baumgardner is sponsored by Red Bull – slogan ‘Red Bull gives you wings’. It would mess the jump up rather if it really did.