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Man to Break Sound Barrier Jumping from Edge of Space

Illustration for article titled Man to Break Sound Barrier Jumping from Edge of Space

This man—looking as badass as Ed Harris in The Right Stuff—is Felix Baumgartner. He actually has The Right Stuff: The cojones to reach the edge of space in a weather balloon. Up to 120,000 feet—and then jump.

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Baumgartner will join United States Air Force Captain Joe Kittinger as the only man to jump from near space altitude. Kittinger jumped on August 16, 1960, from the Excelsior III balloon, which at the time was flying at 102,800 feet—that's 19.47 miles or 31 kilometers up in the sky. Compared to Baumgartner, however, Kittinger's suit looks miserable:

Illustration for article titled Man to Break Sound Barrier Jumping from Edge of Space
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In fact, his right glove failed in the descent, and his hand dilated to twice its size. Absolutely crazy.

Hopefully, Baumgartner won't have any of Kittinger's problems. He will jump sometime in 2010, after a few test jumps at lower altitudes, as part of Red Bull's Stratus mission. Kittinger will be assisting Baumgartner from the ground control, while the mission team monitors his position and body state as he plummets down to Earth, surpassing the speed of sound.

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I love these nutty people.

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DISCUSSION

CrispyAardvark
CrispyAardvark

So, how far behind you does the sonic boom go? When he breaks the speed of sound, will he generate one? And would it be a big enough bang to be potentially dangerous? (Seeing as he's not inside a hard-shelled aircraft)..