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Red Bull Stratos Update: Felix Baumgartner Jump Postponed, Why He Should Not Give Up On His Mission

By Jason Van Hoven - Posted: 10/10/12 02:08PM EDT
Felix Baumgartner

Baumgartner has had to cancel two dives, so a third attempt may be the charm that helps him break the skydive record. (Photo: Reuters)

For the second consecutive day, extreme sports athlete Felix Baumgartner had to cancel his death-defying free-fall jump mission for Red Bull Stratos because of gusty winds.

According to reports, Baumgartner is seeking to break the sound barrier upon jumping from a balloon more than 22 miles above the earth near Roswell's airport in New Mexico. Baumgartner expects to hit 690 mph if and when the wind cooperates enough to give him the opportunity to jump.

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Baumgartner's original plan was to accomplish the feat on Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. But, as Baumgartner sat in his pressurized capsule waiting for the 55-story, ultra-thin helium balloon to fill and carry him into the stratosphere, a 25 mph gust rushed across a field near the airport. The gusts were so strong that the still-inflating balloon spun and concerns emerged if the balloon was damaged.

Baumgartner cancelled, and mission technical director Art Thompson said that the earliest the Red Bull Stratos team could try again would be Thursday, weather permitting. However, even though Baumgartner's team said that he has a second balloon and intends to try again, his meteorologist ruled out a Thursday jump on Wednesday morning.

It would seem that the jump isn't meant to be, but given the resilient nature of many of those who participate in extreme sports, Baumgartner will most likely still get it done. His tweet after aborting the mission jump yesterday also suggest as much:

"It's all about what we do now and accomplish now," he said. "We've made it so far, there's no way turning back."

The risks, most notably the possibility of death, are great. Any contact with his capsule upon exiting could tear his pressurized suit, which would expose him to extreme temperatures as low as 70 below zero and a lack of oxygen. It could also cause lethal bubbles to form in his bodily fluids, a condition known as 'boiling blood.'" He could also spin out of control in the air.

Nevertheless, Baumgartner has a chance to set four new world records if he jumps, marking one of the most historical moments in the history of extreme sports. The jump can provide scientists with valuable information for future spacesuits and techniques that could help astronauts survive accidents, too.

The risks are numerous, but the rewards may be what drives Baumgartner to make the jump as soon as he is able.



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