You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

U.S.

  • Want to buy a New Hampshire election ad? Good luck
     MANCHESTER, N.H. – A Democratic super PAC wanted to run a 30-second ad during a Friday evening newscast on New Hampshire’s one network station - and was even willing to shell out the $10,000 that the station demanded.
  • Gas almost under $3 nationwide: What to know
     NEW YORK – The sight is so surprising that Americans are sharing photos of it, along with all those cute Halloween costumes, sweeping vistas and special meals:
  • Guard troops sent to site of Hawaii lava flow
     PAHOA, Hawaii – The Hawaii National Guard is deploying troops to a rural Hawaii town as lava makes a slow crawl toward a major road and threatens to further isolate the community that got its start during the lumber and sugar-
Advertisement

Skydiver cancels sound-barrier jump

ROSWELL, N.M. – Extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner made final preparations Tuesday for a death-defying, 23-mile free fall into the New Mexico desert, hoping to become the first skydiver to break the sound barrier.

Shortly before 2 p.m. Tuesday (Fort Wayne time), he called a halt to the jump.

The planned early morning launch had been delayed by high winds. But shortly before 11 a.m. MDT, the 43-year-old former military parachutist from Austria entered his capsule. Crews began the hour-long process of inflating the 55-story, ultra-thin and easy-to-tear helium balloon that was to take him into the stratosphere for the jump.

The balloon had been scheduled to launch about 7 a.m. from a field near the airport in a flat dusty town that is best known for a rumored 1947 UFO landing.

Baumgartner was to 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 a few close friends, his team said. He had a light dinner of salmon and a salad, and 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 have spun out of control, causing other risky problems.

Baumgartner made two practice jumps, one from 15 miles in March and another from 18 miles in July.

Jumping from more than three times the height of the average cruising altitude for jetliners, Baumgartner’s would have hit a speed of 690 mph or more before he activated his parachute at 9,500 feet above sea level, or about 5,000 above the ground in southeastern New Mexico. The total jump would have taken about 10 minutes.

His medical director is Dr. Jonathan Clark, a NASA space shuttle crew surgeon who lost his wife, Laurel Clark, in the 2003 Columbia accident. No one knows what happens to a body when it breaks the sound barrier, Clark said.

Follow Jeri Clausing at http://twitter.com/jericlausing.

Advertisement