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article imageAustrian skydiver planning record-breaking 23-mile jump

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By Kev Hedges     Feb 7, 2012 in Science
Austrian stuntman and adventurer Felix Baumgartner is planning the highest dive from the sky in history. The record-breaking leap will see Felix jump out of a balloon 36.5km above the ground.
The astonishing jump is not without potentially fatal consequences should the daredevil leap go wrong. A pressurised suit similar to the ones astronauts wear, only tougher, must not be compromised otherwise Felix would rapidly lose consciousness, his body tissue would start to swell and the moisture in his eyes and mouth would start to boil.
Mr Baumgartner has successfully tested the suit in similar conditions and he defiantly says, "I can deliver, I can perform. The equipment will function." The suit will help maintain air pressure and provide an oxygen supply.
Once Baumgartner falls he will pick up speed at such velocity he will even break the sound barrier. He will become the first person to achieve this remarkable feat unaided by a machine.
Other hazards in the death-defying leap include the extreme cold. Temperatures at that height are around minus 70c so if the suit fails then the extreme cold will add to the Austrian's problems. The sheer height is so great that it is similar to the distance from Dover, UK to Calais in France or the distance between downtown Los Angeles to Long Beach.
The attempt has been described by RAF (Royal Air Force) aviation doctors as "a remarkable effort, fraught with challenges." Captain David Gradwell told the BBC Science journal:
[Mr Baumgartner] will be falling very fast so he will have to be sure he remains stable so that he doesn't spin out of control, he needs to see through the visor of his pressure helmet to see what's going on in order to operate his parachute properly and see that it has properly deployed.
Should Baumgartner's jump succeed, it will have beaten a record set in 1960 by Joe Kittinger, who leapt out from a balloon at 31km (102,800ft).
The skydiving leap is expected to take place later this year, reports Telegraph UK.
article:319174:18::0
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