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Skydiver Felix Baumgartner Tries To Break The Sound Barrier Next Week

•, Dina Spector

On Monday, Oct. 8, Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner will attempt to be the first human to break the speed of sound in free fall. He will do this by jumping from an air balloon 120,000 feet above Earth. That's three times higher than the typical cruising altitude of commercial airliners.

After leaping from the capsule, the 43-year-old hopes to reach 690 mph, or Mach 1.

Breaking the speed of sound means passing the speed that sound waves are produced in the air. Sixty-five years ago, Chuck Yeager famously broke the sound barrier flying a rocket plane. Baumgartner won't have the same luxury.

The only barrier between Baumgartner and the vacuum of space where there is barely any oxygen and temperatures dip as low as minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit will be his full-pressure suit and helmet. So obviously, any damage to this equipment would be a catastrophe as it's a key component to the skydiver's safe descent and landing.

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