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“I like to challenge myself,” Baumgartner told The Associated Press in a recent interview, “and this is the ultimate skydive. I think there’s nothing bigger than that.”

He’s caught NASA’s attention, even though space officially begins much higher at an even 100 kilometers, 328,084 feet or 62 miles.

Kittinger is now 83 and one of Baumgartner’s chief advisers. A former NASA flight director directs the medical team: Dr. Jonathan Clark, whose astronaut wife, Laurel, was killed aboard space shuttle Columbia in 2003. The accident led Clark to become an expert in spacecraft emergency escape.

Kittinger and Clark were among those taking part in Thursday’s dress rehearsal.

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Online:

Red Bull Stratos: http://www.redbullstratos.com/

National Museum of the U.S. Air Force: http://tinyurl.com/2dsnn6