Plans for extreme athlete and skydiver Felix Baumgartner to make a death-defying, 23-mile free fall into the southeastern
The 43-year-old former military parachutist from Austria planned to take off in a 55-story, ultra-thin and easy-to-tear helium balloon that would take him into the stratosphere for a jump that he hopes will make him the first skydiver to break the sound barrier and shatter three other world records.
"We need 3 mph or less at 800 feet," Day said, putting the chance of a launch Tuesday at "50-50."
After sunrise, Day said there were indications the upper level winds might calm, so the team pushed the launch window from to , at the latest. A final decision would have to be made about as it takes about an hour and half to fill the balloon and get Baumgartner suited up and ready.
"We are going to stick it out for another couple of hours," he said, adding, "We've got everyone here. We are going to wait and see if we can take advantage of it."
If the launch, already delayed one day by a cold front, can't go Tuesday, Day said the next try probably wouldn't be until Thursday. In addition to the wind, he said, the team was having some issues with the
The balloon had been scheduled to launch about from a field near the airport in a flat dusty town that until now has been best known for a rumored 1947 UFO landing.
If the mission goes, Baumgartner will make a nearly three-hour ascent to 120,000 feet, then take a bunny-style hop from a pressurized capsule into a near-vacuum where there is barely any oxygen to begin what is expected to be the fastest, farthest free fall from the highest-ever manned balloon.
Baumgartner spent Monday at his hotel, mentally preparing for the dangerous feat with his parents, girlfriend and four close friends, his team said. He had a light dinner of salmon and a salad, then had a massage. He spent Tuesday morning resting in an Airstream trailer near the launch site.
Among the risks: Any contact with the capsule on his exit could tear the pressurized suit. A rip could expose him to a lack of oxygen and temperatures as low as 70 degrees below zero. It could cause potentially lethal bubbles to form in his bodily fluids, a condition known as "boiling blood."
He could also spin out of control, causing other risky problems.