Supersonic sky dive beckoning

MARCIA DUNN
Last updated 14:37 26/09/2012
Felix Baumgartner
JAY NEMETH/ Red Bull/ Getty

HIGH UP: Felix Baumgartner ascends to great heights in a capsule carried by a balloon. Wearing a special suit, he then steps off into free fall.

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The countdown is on for skydiver Felix Baumgartner.

In just two weeks, Baumgartner will attempt to go supersonic when he jumps from a record altitude of 37km over New Mexico.

Project managers announced Tuesday the feat will take place October 8.

The Austrian parachutist jumped from 22km in March and 31km in July.

This time, he hopes to break the all-time record of 34km set in 1960.

A giant helium balloon will hoist a pressurised capsule with Baumgartner inside, dressed in a pressure suit.

Baumgartner expects to reach a top speed of 1110kmh and break the sound barrier with only his body, less than a half-minute after he hops from his capsule.

The same capsule was used for Baumgartner's two practice jumps, but was damaged in the latest touchdown.

It smashed down hard despite its parachute, and the outer shell had to be replaced with parts from a backup capsule. The entire craft was taken apart and reassembled.

The repairs and retesting pushed the final flight from August to October.

"I feel like a tiger in a cage waiting to get out," Baumgartner, 43, said in a statement.

Project officials note that excellent weather will be needed to launch the 30 million-cubic-foot helium balloon from Roswell. Early fall is generally an optimal time for such endeavors.

The entire flight will be monitored by a Nasa-like Mission Control; the mission is known as Red Bull Stratos, short for stratosphere.

One of the lead team members is record-holder Joe Kittinger, who was an Air Force captain when he took part in the military high-jump project.

This time, the effort is privately funded by the energy drink maker.

October jump computer generated image video preview:

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- AP

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