clear
Thursday August 27th, 2015 8:27PM

Skydiver cancels try at supersonic jump

By The Associated Press
ROSWELL, N.M. - Extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner canceled his planned death-defying 23-mile free fall Tuesday because of high winds, the second time this week he was forced to postpone his quest to become the world's first supersonic skydiver.

The former military parachutist from Austria had planned to ride a pressurized capsule carried aloft by a 55-story, ultra-thin helium balloon into the stratosphere, and then jump in a specially designed suit.

But high winds led to the decision shortly after 11:30 a.m. to abort. Because the balloon is so delicate, it could only take off if winds were 2 mph or below on the ground.

Baumgartner's team said he has a second balloon and intends to try again, possibly on Thursday.

The balloon had been scheduled to launch about 6:30 a.m. from a field near the airport in a flat dusty town that is best known for a rumored 1947 UFO landing. But high winds kept the mission in question for hours.

When winds died down, Baumgartner, 43, suited up and entered the capsule and crews began filling the balloon. But the team's discovery it had lost one of two radios in the capsule and a problem with the capsule led to delays in the decision to begin filling the balloon, pushing the mission critically close to a noon cutoff for launch.

As the balloon was finally filling, a gust of 25 mph whipped it around and could have damaged its integrity, mission technical director Art Thompson said. "Not knowing if the winds would continue or not, we made the decision to pull the plug," he said.

Mission meteorologist Don Day said, "it was just a situation where it took too long" and they lost their already pushed-back launch window.

Day was shown on a live video feed shaking his head as he watched the latest weather data just before the mission was halted. "I was very despondent because I could see the end right there," he said.

After sitting fully suited up in his capsule for nearly 45 minutes, Baumgartner was shown on a live video feed leaving the capsule and departing the launch site in his Airstream trailer.

Thompson said the earliest the team could try again would be Thursday because of weather and the need for the crew - which worked all night Monday into Tuesday - to get some rest.

Baumgartner was to make a nearly three-hour ascent to 120,000 feet, then take a bunny-style hop from the capsule into a near-vacuum where there is barely any oxygen to begin what was expected to be the fastest, farthest free fall from the highest-ever manned balloon.

Among the risks: Any contact with the capsule on his exit could have torn the pressurized suit. A rip could have exposed him to a lack of oxygen and temperatures as low as 70 degrees below zero. It could have caused potentially lethal bubbles to form in his bodily fluids, a condition known as "boiling blood."

He could also have spun out of control, causing other risky problems.

The energy drink maker Red Bull, which is sponsoring the feat, had been promoting a live Internet stream of the event at http://www.redbullstratos.com/live from nearly 30 cameras on the capsule, the ground and a helicopter. But organizers said there will be a 20-second delay in their broadcast of footage in case of a tragic accident.

And while Baumgartner hopes to set four new world records when he jumps, his free fall is more than just a stunt.

His dive from the stratosphere should provide scientists with valuable information for next-generation spacesuits and techniques that could help astronauts survive accidents.

Currently, spacesuits are certified to protect astronauts to 100,000 feet, the level former Air Force Capt. Joe Kittinger reached in his 1960 free-fall record from 19.5 miles. Kittinger's speed of 614 mph was just shy of breaking the sound barrier at that altitude. Baumgartner expects to hit a speed of 690 mph.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Doctors: Blood clot located in Clinton's head
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton developed a blood clot in her head but did not suffer a stroke or neurological damage, her doctors said Monday. They say they are confident that she will make a full recovery.
3:55PM ( 2 years ago )
Illinois Sen. Kirk to return a year after stroke
Nearly a year after a stroke left him barely able to move the left side of his body, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is expected to climb the 45 steps to the Senate's front door this week - a walk that's significant not just for Illinois' junior senator, but also for medical researchers and hundreds of thousands of stroke patients.
3:54PM ( 2 years ago )
U.S. News
Health official: States should post local vaccination info
How many kids are vaccinated at your child's school? Federal health officials think you should be able to easily find out.
By The Associated Press
4:55PM ( 3 hours ago )
US stocks end sharply higher; Dow up 369
U.S. stocks are closing sharply higher after China's main stock index logged its biggest gain in eight weeks. A report also showed that the U.S. economy expanded at a much faster pace than previously estimated.
By The Associated Press
4:33PM ( 3 hours ago )
Settlement reached in lawsuit over decade-old Gulf oil leak
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Environmental groups and a New Orleans company that failed to end a decade-old oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico have reached a settlement agreement in a lawsuit over the slow-motion s...
12:32PM ( 7 hours ago )
The Latest: Kentucky clerk again refuses to grant license
MOREHEAD, Ky. (AP) — The latest in the refusal of a Kentucky county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples (all times local):___12 p.m.A Kentucky county clerk temporarily closed her offi...
12:07PM ( 8 hours ago )
Democratic Party lags in money before presidential year
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democratic National Committee barely has more cash than it does IOUs, and it is being outraised month after month by its Republican competitor.Its $24 million debt from the 2012...
11:51AM ( 8 hours ago )