Supersonic Space Diver With Death Wish
Felix Baumgartner plans to leap a record 120,000 feet, breaking four world records. If all goes well, Baumgartner will set records for highest altitude freefall, longest distance freefall, highest manned balloon fight, and fastest speed freefall (he will actually break the sound of speed!).
120,000 feet is pretty damn high. High enough that the fall is expected to last six whole minutes. It's also high enough that valuable scientific data is expected to be collected for advances in future space travel.
The project's technical director, Art Thompson, has expressed some concern regarding safety.
Via New Scientist,
"Thompson says, 'In early aircraft development, they thought it was a wall they couldn't pass without breaking apart. In our case, the vehicle is flesh and blood, and he'll be exposed to some extreme forces.'
The jump height is above a threshold at 19,000 metres called the Armstrong line, where the atmospheric pressure is so low that fluids start to boil. 'If he opens up his face mask or the suit, all the gases in your body go out of suspension, so you literally turn into a giant fizzy, oozing fluid from your eyes and mouth, like something out of a horror film,' Thompson explained. 'It's just seconds until death.'"