ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - He's set to break records and the sound barrier Tuesday morning, "Fearless" Felix Baumgartner will jump from the edge of space, 23 miles up, and land in Roswell.
The 43-year-old Austrian has made test jumps and prepared, "I've been trained the last five years," said Baumgartner.
But even he knows the three hour ride up into the atmosphere in his specialized balloon, and the jump out, are uncharted territory.
"Nobody can tell me what happens to the human body in freefall when you fly supersonic speeds," said Baumgartner. "They have been testing a lot and rehearse the last couple of years, we are not going to know the answer until we do it for real."
So what could he face, Interim chair of emergency medicine for UNM, Doctor Steve McLaughlin, "Up in space or at a high altitude there is going to be a lot less pressure."
Baumgartner will be wearing a pressurized space suit and boy will he need it.
‘He would pass out immediately if he did not have a space suit on,' said McLaughlin. "There are all kinds of very graphic descriptions of what to your eyes to your blood to your intestines. A lot of that we don't have a lot of experience with."
Baumgartner will fall for about 5 full minutes, reaching speeds over 700 miles per hour in temperatures 70-below-zero when he leaves the balloon. He'll finally open his parachute a mile over Roswell.
"If his suit doesn't work this is going to a catastrophic kind of thing, he will not survive," said McLaughlin.
But even if the suit holds, there are still major concerns for his health.
"Overheating as he reenters the atmosphere and also the stress on his body as he slows down," said McLaughlin. "If he slows down too fast he's going to end up with kind of a blunt trauma injury."
And maybe the biggest concern of all, "There is an issue with spinning so he has to fall straight. If he starts to spin then what happens is the blood will end up either all in his head or all in his feet."
Baumgartner will start his ascent at around 7:00am.
The man who currently holds the record, Joe Kittenger, jumped from 19 miles up in 1960. The 84-year-old was an air force captain at the time. He has helped train Baumgartner to break his record and will be in mission control tomorrow morning for the jump.
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