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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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Kittinger reached 614 mph, or Mach 0.9. Baumgartner, a former military parachutist from Austria, hopes to reach 690 mph, or Mach 1.

Kittinger also was involved in the Air Force's Excelsior project, making a series of parachute jumps from helium balloons in the stratosphere in 1959 and 1960. Excelsior was a test bed for the nation's space program. With one balloon flight, "we waited 30 days and we never got it off," Kittinger said.

Baumgartner's team had hoped to make the launch in the summer, when there is less winds, but was forced to delay it until October because of problems with the capsule.

One of the disappointments of Tuesday's aborted launch was losing the balloon. The balloons are so fragile that once they are taken out of the box, they cannot be reused. The team has one more balloon. Team members said they are looking for a backup, but that could take four weeks or more.

Art Thompson, the project's technical director, said there likely would be windows in the weather for making the jump through November, but declined to speculate on long-term plans beyond that.

The jump is being sponsored by energy drink maker Red Bull. The costs have not been disclosed. But Thompson said Wednesday the balloons cost several hundred thousand dollars each, and he estimated the team lost $60,000 to $70,000 in helium with the aborted jump.

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Follow Jeri Clausing at http://twitter.com/jericlausing.