Austrian skydiver plans to break sound barrier in free fall

Last Updated: Feb 14, 2012, 09:04 AM IST

London: An Austrian skydiver will try to break the sound barrier during a free fall from a balloon high up in the stratosphere.

Felix Baumgartner, 42, termed it a mission to the "death zone" and said he will be doomed if his world record bid goes wrong, The Sun reported.

The Austrian plans to jump unaided by machine from a height of 120,000 feet (or around 36 km) from a giant balloon over New Mexico (US) this August.

The Austrian will, however, wear an astronaut-style oxygen suit to protect him from minus 70 degrees Celsius temperatures.

"Once I jump there`s no turning back. If the life-support system fails there`ll only be one result. Racing drivers can enter the pits if things go wrong. For me, there`s no way out," he said.

Baumgartner will plummeting to the ground from 120,000 feet. After 35 seconds, he will break the sound barrier, and finally, at 5,000 feet he will deploy a parachute and -- hopefully -- land safely on the ground.

During his 10-minute journey to earth, the Austrian will travel at over 1100 km per hour, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Baumgartner in 2003 became the first person to "skydive" across the English Channel.

Writing on his blog about being given the chance to make the jump, Baumgartner said: "I am struggling to find the right words to express my happiness, how relieved and motivated I am."

Baumgartner said he hoped his stunt would help provide valuable information about how humans will cope in the future with space tourism and open up new types of extreme sports such as space diving, the Telegraph added.

The skydive, which is being sponsored by energy drink manufacturer Red Bull, will attempt to break four world records -- the highest altitude freefall, the highest manned balloon flight, the longest distance travelled in freefall and the speed record for the fastest freefall.

IANS