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The plan was for Baumgartner to make a nearly three-hour ascent to 120,000 feet, then take a bunny-style hop from the capsule into a near-vacuum where there is barely any oxygen to start his jump.

The jump poses many risks. Any contact with the capsule on his exit could tear the pressurized suit. A rip could expose him to a lack of oxygen and temperatures as low as 70 degrees below zero. It could cause potentially lethal bubbles to form in his bodily fluids, a condition known as “boiling blood.”

He could also spin out of contro, causing other problems.

While Baumgartner hopes to set four new world records in all when he jumps, his dive is more than just a stunt.

His free fall should provide scientists with valuable information for next-generation spacesuits and techniques that could help astronauts survive accidents.

Currently, spacesuits are certified to protect astronauts to 100,000 feet, the level former Air Force Capt. Joe Kittinger reached in his 1960 free-fall record from 19.5 miles.

Kittinger’s speed of 614 mph was just shy of breaking the sound barrier at that altitude.

Baumgartner expects to hit 690 mph, if and when the wind cooperates enough to give him the chance to jump.