ROSWELL, New Mexico
(AP) — Austrian skydiver and extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner hopes to take the leap of his life on Tuesday, attempting the highest, fastest free fall in history.
If he survives, the man dubbed "Fearless Felix" could be the first skydiver to break the sound barrier. If he doesn't, a tragic fall could be live-streamed on the Internet for the world to see.
The 43-year-old former military parachutist is scheduled to jump from a balloon-hoisted capsule 23 miles above Roswell on Tuesday morning. He wants to break the record set in 1960 by Joe Kittinger, who jumped from an open gondola at an altitude of 19.5 miles. Kittinger's speed of 614 mph was just shy of breaking the sound barrier at that height.
And while he and his team of experts recognize the worst-case scenarios — including "boiling" blood and exploding lungs — they have confidence in their built-in solutions. Those solutions are something NASA is watching closely. The space agency is interested in the potential for escape systems on future rocket ships.
This death-defying venture is being sponsored by energy drink maker, Red Bull, which has funded other extreme athletic events.
Red Bull has been promoting a live Internet stream of the event from all cameras except those on Baumgartner's body.