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Extreme Skydiver Plans 23-Mile Plunge To Break Sound Barrier on Monday

Felix Baumgartner on a successful second test jump in July

Photo by Joerg Mitter/AFP/GettyImages.

In less than a week, extreme skydiver Felix Baumgartner will attempt to be the first person to break the sound barrier in free fall.

Yes, he’ll be more than three times higher than the cruising altitude of jetliners. And sure, he’ll only have a pressurized suit and helmet standing between him and an anticipated temperature of minus 70 degrees. But Baumgartner is optimistic ahead of his 23-mile jump over the New Mexico desert. As Baumgartner confidently told the Associated Press, “So many unknowns, but we have solutions to survive.”

His Red Bull-sponsored team includes numerous doctors and engineers. He also has current skydive record-holder Joe Kittinger, who, as an Air Force officer, leapt from an open gondola in 1960, falling 19.5 miles at 614 mph, or Mach 0.9.

“After this,” Baumgartner said, “I’m going to retire because I’ve been successfully doing things for the last 25 years and I’m still alive.”