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Supersonic Stratosphere Skydive!

October 10th, 2012

Felix Baumgartner during a 71,581 ft. test jump in March 2012. Courtesty Red Bull Stratos

Austrian daredevil, Felix Baumgartner, hopes to become the first person ever to skydive from the edge of space!

He’d also become the first person ever to break the sound barrier — with just his body  — on the way down!

You’ll be able to watch it live when it happens at .

It was supposed to happen yesterday but it was too windy. They hope to try again this Sunday, October 14.

He’ll break at least three world records if he succeeds. It would be the highest jump … as well as the longest and the fastest free fall ever!

Mr. Baumgartner would be jumping from the stratosphere, which is 120,000 or so feet up, about 23 miles. That’s three times higher than most commercial airplanes fly!

You can watch the animation below. This is how they’re hoping it will go.

How will he get up there? The same as the little Lego guys do … by helium balloon! Only this one’s as tall as a 55-story building!

He’ll also be going faster than most passenger airplanes fly. If his Red Bull Stratos team’s calculations are right, his body (protected only by his space suit), will be hurtling toward Earth at nearly 700 miles per hour! And that’s how fast he’ll need to go to break the sound barrier.

The sound barrier isn’t actually a barrier, it’s just called that.

Sound travels on invisible waves in the air. “Breaking the sound barrier” is when something goes faster than the sound that’s travelling on those waves.

In this case, if Felix Baumgartner was carrying a loud siren with him on his fall, and you were floating up high near him as he went past, you wouldn’t hear his siren blaring until Mr. Baumgartner, and the siren, were both well past you. That’s actually kind of hard to imagine!

The speed of sound isn’t a set speed. Sound waves travel slower in high-up, cold air than they do in down-low, warmer air.  Still, Felix Baumgartner will need to go faster than 690 miles an hour up there!!  Not exactly slow! If he does that, he’ll be what’s called “supersonic” or going Mach 1. And, interestingly, he might not be aware of it if/when it happens.  This video explains his attempt to break the speed of sound.

So, is this a stunt or science? A bit of both. Felix Baumgartner is a world-renowned, record-breaking daredevil. You can see some of his other extreme jumps on his website by clicking here .

But because no one’s ever done what he’s done, it’s also an opportunity to test the effects of what jumping from that high does to a body, as well as to his equipment.

He’s done some test jumps to get ready, including jumping from 96,000 feet. And a man named Joe Kittinger jumped from 19 miles high over 50 years ago. He almost reached the speed of sound. It’s Mr. Kittinger’s records that Felix Baumgartner is trying to break. Mr. Kittinger is now Mr. Baumgartner’s mentor for this jump!

Good luck to Felix Baumgartner and the Red Bull Stratos team!

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