Felix Baumgartner is set for an Oct. 8 attempt to freefall from an altitude of 120,000 feet near Roswell, N.M., breaking the sound barrier along the way, and a record that's stood for more than half a century. The jump will be the culmination of the Red Bull Stratos project, which began in 2005. It aims to best USAF Col. Joe Kittinger's 1960 record for jumping from 102,000 feet and landing safely with a parachute. The team suffered a setback in July, when a practice run from more than 97,000 feet saw Baumgarnter reach 537 mph in freefall. He landed safely, but his 2,900-pound capsule did not, suffering minor damage. The team now says it's ready to go. In Baumgartner's words, "I feel like a caged tiger waiting to get out."
Weather and technical details permitting, a helium balloon will lift Baumgartner in his custom capsule from Roswell, N.M., on or about Oct. 8. If all goes well, the trip will set a record for "world's highest-ever skydive." It will also leave Baumgarnter with the distinction for the highest manned balloon flight, followed by the longest, fastest freefall. The team says weather trends in early fall in New Mexico suggest they'll make their target date. The July 25 jump became the second-highest jump ever. After Baumgartner departs the capsule, the capsule is released to parachute back to earth. Some unfortunately situated rocks left the capsule on its side, damaging its outer shell, framework and other key components. The systems have since been rebuilt and tested. Key players include Col. Kittinger, who is an advisor on the project, and Don Day, project meteorologist.