Jun 05, 2012 11:12 PM GMT
All you need to do is look at this picture to just imagine how crazy the idea seems:
Later this summer, Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner will ascend to 120,000 feet in a pressurized capsule and, wearing only a spacesuit, jump.
As he plummets 23 miles in the highest skydive ever, Baumgartner will become the first person to break the sound barrier in free fall. That’s the plan, anyway. To even attempt this will expose him to many challenges, including the risk that water in his body could vaporize. But one challenge in particular is foremost in everyone’s mind: What happens when Baumgartner encounters the shock waves that invariably occur when something exceeds the speed of sound?
No one really knows.
"Until you do it, it's still an unknown," says Jonathan Clark, the medical director for Red Bull Stratos, the team assembled to help Baumgartner reach his lofty goal.