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Skydiving from the edge of space: can a human break the sound barrier?

A person freefalling from 120,000 feet would theoretically reach a supersonic speed of over 700mph. Two daredevils of the skies are racing to break the sound barrier 鈥 and face unknown hazards in their attempt. They are Felix Baumgartner (is an extreme sportsman from Austria)聽 and Michel Fournier (聽聽a 聽former paratrooper from France) who both want to break Joe Kittinger record…

Baumgartner or Fournier will be exposed to the combination of a freezing cold atmosphere and the sun’s unfiltered rays. Other risks include hypoxia (a lack of oxygen), decompression sickness, even hallucinations 鈥 all before leaving the capsule. Any breakage or failure of equipment at this point would be catastrophic; were the suit to lose its pressurisation, for example, it would trigger a process called vaporisation whereupon the blood, in the vacuum of near-space, boils inside the body.

Do not miss the whole story:

** Skydiving from the edge of space: can a human break the sound barrier?

聽聽聽聽 Tom Lamont / The Observer / 5 september 2010

** The Red Bull Stratos Proyect

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