How To Jump From 23 Miles Above Earth And Survive

FelixAustrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner.

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

Come Tuesday, weather permitting, Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner will attempt to be the first person to break the sound barrier in free fall.  The mission will take Felix 23 miles above Earth in a small space capsule. 

He will then step out of the capsule and plunge to Earth hoping to reach speeds that exceed 690 mph. 

The vessel is rigged with 15 cameras so that the entire Red-Bull sponsored event can be broadcast live online.  

It’s an unthinkably dangerous stunt that will test the limits of the human body in one of the most brutal environments: Air pressure is practically nonexistent and temperatures can sink to negative 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Continue clicking to see how it will all come together.

Felix will launch from a desert region in Roswell, New Mexico.

The site was chosen for its good weather and wide open spaces.

He will sit inside a pressurised space capsule.

The interior sphere isn't very big. It's about 6 feet across and contains various instruments, cameras and Felix's chair.

A giant helium balloon (it weighs almost 4,000 pounds uninflated) will carry the capsule 23 miles above Earth.

The balloon is very thin and tall at launch. It will fill out into a large round shape as the helium gas expands with altitude.

The balloon should reach the stratosphere in less than three hours.

At 120,000 feet, Felix will step out of the capsule and jump.

Temperatures and lack of pressure are the biggest dangers. At 62,000 feet the water in Felix's body could turn to gas and expand.

His only protection from the extreme conditions will be a full-pressure suit and helmet.

It could dip to negative 70 degrees Fahrenheit as Felix plunges to Earth. In the first test flight, the Austrian 's hands were frozen to the point where he was almost unable to pull his parachute rip cord.

Felix expects to reach the speed of sound, 690 mph, in about 30 seconds.

The current record is 614 mph. That was set in 1960 by U.S. Air Force Col. Joe Kittinger, shown right, who jumped to Earth from 102,800 feet.

After five minutes of free fall, Felix will deploy his parachute at around 5,000 feet.

Felix isn't wearing an ordinary skydiving rig. The whole pack, which contains a stabilisation chute to help during an uncontrolled spin, two landing parachutes and a 10-minute oxygen supply, weighs 60 pounds. That's three times heavier than a normal parachute system.

Felix will land 10 minutes after the parachute is released.

The balloon and capsule will be separated after Felix lands so they can both return to Earth.

If everything goes according to plan, Felix will become the first person to exceed the speed of sound in free fall.

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