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Countdown to ‘Fearless’ Felix’s Supersonic Skydive Begins

•, By Chuck Squatriglia
 The Austrian adventurer will ascend to 120,000 feet in a pressurized capsule and, wearing only a spacesuit and a parachute, jump. As he plummets earthward in what will be the highest skydive ever, Baumgartner will become the first person to break the sound barrier in freefall.

Crazy? Perhaps. But ‘Fearless Felix’ already has made two practice jumps, from 13 miles and 18 miles, that went perfectly. Well, almost perfectly.

Baumgartner’s capsule was damaged during a hard landing after his leap from 97,145 feet in July, necessitating a complete overhaul. It was completed last week, and with everything up to par, Red Bull Stratos technical director Art Thompson has declared all systems go. The launch window opens Oct. 8.

“I feel like a tiger in a cage waiting to get out,” the 43-year-old former military parachutist, a veteran of more than 2,500 jumps, said in a statement.

 Baumgartner hopes to break the unofficial record Joe Kittinger, a retired Air Force colonel from Florida, set in 1960 when he jumped from 102,800 feet. He expects to free fall for at least five minutes (another record) and exceed the speed of sound, around 700 mph at that altitude. His jump comes 65 years after Chuck Yeager became the first person to break the speed of sound.

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