Saturday, July 15, 2006

Skydiver gets ready for 25-mile jump

"Frenchman Michel Fournier is readying himself and his equipment to attempt a record-setting free fall from the stratosphere.

Dubbed 'The Big Jump,' Fournier is eyeing next month for his supersonic free fall from about 130,000 feet (40 kilometers) — roughly 25 miles above Earth. The dive from a balloon-carried gondola is slated to take place above the plains of Saskatchewan in Canada.

The 62-year-old Fournier is an experienced parachutist, pilot and former military officer. He hopes his ultra-sky dive will contribute to the development of future technologies and the safety of stratospheric flight — specifically by astronauts in high-altitude emergencies that are outfitted with the proper survival equipment.

If successful, Fournier will beat four world parachuting records from the border of space:

Altitude record for free fall
Altitude record for human balloon flight
Time record for longest free fall
Speed record for fastest free fall — breaking the sound barrier in the process"

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