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Athlete looking at Sunday for supersonic skydive

Associated Press Modified: October 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm •  Published: October 10, 2012
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner hopes to make a second attempt to become the world's first supersonic skydiver with a 23-mile free fall over New Mexico on Sunday or Monday.

Baumgartner aborted his mission Tuesday due to high winds, and his team had hoped the weather would allow him another try Thursday. But now they're looking at the next window being Sunday or Monday.

Baumgartner is hoping to become the first skydiver to break the sound barrier by jumping from a capsule floated more than 120,000 feet into the stratosphere by an ultra-thin, 55-story helium balloon.

The jump was postponed due to wind Monday, then aborted at the last minute Tuesday because of wind gusts. The balloon is so delicate that it can take off only if winds on the ground are 2 mph or less.

Baumgartner is disappointed "like the rest of us" but taking a couple of days of critical downtime, his high-performance athletic trainer, Andy Walshe, said Wednesday.

Team meteorologist Don Day noted during a media briefing at the Roswell launch site that weather delays are common in stratospheric ballooning.

"It takes a lot of patience," said Joe Kittinger, a former Air Force captain whose free-fall record Baumgartner is trying to break. Kittinger is a lead member of Baumgartner's team, and will be the only member of mission control who will communicate directly with Baumgartner during his nearly three-hour ascent in a pressurized capsule.

Kittinger said his 1960 jump, the first attempt to break the sound barrier, also was delayed by weather. He leapt from a helium balloon-floated, open-air gondola from an altitude of 19.5 miles.

"I was ready to go and had to wait," Kittinger said at the briefing. "It's frustrating. But you have to go through it. What you see is what you get."

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