Felix Baumgartner plans to ascend to 120,000 feet in a 55-story-tall helium-filled balloon and then jump back to earth. During the first few minutes of his descent, his free fall is expected to break the speed of sound—about 690 miles per hour in those atmospheric conditions. As air density increases, the speed of his descent will gradually decrease. The 43-year-old will then deploy his parachute, returning to earth hopefully within a few miles of the balloon's liftoff location.
The previous record for skydiving is held by Joe Kittinger, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, who dived from 102,800 feet in 1960. To prepare for the jump, Mr. Baumgartner jumped from 97,146 feet in June, eclipsing the second-highest skydive mark held by Yevgeny Andreyev, a member of the former Soviet Union's Air Force.
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