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Transportation

Skydiver To Break Sound Barrier During Free-Fall 311

Hugh Pickens writes "Over fifty years ago, American Joe Kittinger made history by leaping from a balloon at 102,800 ft, and although many have sought to repeat the feat, all have failed. Now, BBC reports that Austrian extreme sportsman Felix Baumgartner will try to break the long-standing record for the highest ever parachute jump, skydiving from a balloon sent to at least 120,000 ft, and it is likely that 35 seconds into in his long free-fall of more than five minutes, he will exceed the speed of sound — the first person to do so without the aid of a machine. 'No-one really knows what that will be like,' says Baumgartner. Although challenges in the endeavor include coping with freezing temperatures and ultra-thin air, a key objective for Baumgartner will be to try to maintain a good attitude during the descent and prevent his body from going into a spin and blacking out. 'The fact is you have a lot of different airflows coming around your body; and some parts of your body are in supersonic flow and some parts are in transonic flow. What kind of reaction that creates, I can't tell you,' adds Baumgartner."

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