LIVE VIDEO: Live Newscast RIGHT NOW    Watch
 

Felix Baumgartner balloon jump: Tuesday's supersonic skydive attempt is aborted

2:07 PM, Oct 9, 2012   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +
Photo from February provided by Red Bull Stratos shows Felix Buamgartner with piece of balloon material

 


 


ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) - Extreme athlete and skydiver Felix Baumgartner has canceled his planned death-defying 23-mile free fall into the New Mexico desert because of high winds.

The 43-year-old former military parachutist from Austria had hoped to become the first skydiver to break the sound barrier and shatter three other world records.

But the weather on Tuesday forced his team to cancel his planned ascent in a 55-story, ultra-thin helium balloon that was to take him to the stratosphere.

Because the balloon is so delicate, it could only take flight if winds were 2 mph or below.

Earlier Report:

ROSWELL, N.M. -- A weather hold that threatened to cancel extreme athlete and skydiver Felix Baumgartner's death-defying, 23-mile free fall into the southeastern New Mexico desert was lifted Tuesday morning and crews began laying out his balloon.

The planned early morning launch had been delayed by high winds. But just before 9 a.m., the winds calmed and the team decided to proceed with plans to make the flight, a process that would take about two hours.

The countdown has resumed, and the jump is scheduled to begin shortly after 1:30 p.m.

The 43-year-old former military parachutist from Austria plans to take off in a 55-story, ultra-thin and easy-to-tear helium balloon that will take him into the stratosphere for the jump. He hopes it will make him the first skydiver to break the sound barrier and shatter three other world records.

Interactive: More on Baumgartner's jump

Those plans were in question before sunrise, when winds at 700 feet above ground - the top of the balloon - were 20 mph, far above the 3 mph maximum for a safe launch, said mission meteorologist Don Day.

After sunrise, Day said there were indications the upper level winds might calm, so the team pushed the launch window from 2 p.m. EDT at the latest.

The balloon had been scheduled to launch about 9 a.m. EST from a field near the airport in a flat dusty town that until now has been best known for a rumored 1947 UFO landing.

If the mission goes, Baumgartner will make a nearly three-hour ascent to 120,000 feet, then take a bunny-style hop from a pressurized capsule into a near-vacuum where there is barely any oxygen to begin what is expected to be the fastest, farthest free fall from the highest-ever manned balloon.

Baumgartner spent Monday at his hotel, mentally preparing for the dangerous feat with his parents, girlfriend and four close friends, his team said. He had a light dinner of salmon and a salad, then had a massage. He spent Tuesday morning resting in an Airstream trailer near the launch site.

Among the risks: Any contact with the capsule on his exit could tear the pressurized suit. A rip could expose him to a lack of oxygen and temperatures as low as 70 degrees below zero. It could cause potentially lethal bubbles to form in his bodily fluids, a condition known as "boiling blood."

He could also spin out of control, causing other risky problems.

The energy drink maker Red Bull, which is sponsoring the feat, has been promoting a live Internet stream of the event at http://www.redbullstratos.com/live from nearly 30 cameras on the capsule, the ground and a helicopter. But organizers said there will be a 20-second delay in their broadcast of footage in case of an accident.

Most Watched Videos