The highest, fastest, and longest-duration skydive ever is set to happen on Tuesday; Felix Baumgartner will step off of a small floating platform 23 miles up in the sky and free fall for more than five minutes, reaching speeds of up to 690 miles per hour, breaking the sound barrier.
On Tuesday, he’ll climb to about 23 miles “above New Mexico in a pressurized capsule attached to history’s largest helium balloon—55 stories tall and as wide as a football field.”
And then when the weather is right, he’ll jump out of the capsule in a pressurized suit for the long fall to the Earth.
If successful this will be the first time that a human has broken the sound barrier “without the propulsion, or protection, of a vehicle.”
There are many things that could potentially go wrong during the jump though; his blood could boil, extreme cold could pop his ascension balloon, wind could blow him off course, he could enter into a ‘death spin’, a sonic boom without an aircraft’s protection could cause unknown problems, or there could be equipment failures.
Currently the longest ever free fall was one done by Joseph Kittinger; a retired U.S. Air Force colonel who jumped from 19.5 miles high on August 16, 1960.
Source: National Geographic