If all goes according to plan, Michel Fournier will complete a two decade and $20 million long journey today to balloon into the upper reaches of the atmosphere and then skydive back down in what he’s calling Le Grad Saut, or, The Great Leap.
His leap begins on the ground, where he will load into a 10 foot tall pressurized gondola that will hang from the bottom of a 650-foot balloon. This balloon will take him to a height of 130,000 feet (25 miles) over the course of two-hours, at which point he will open the door and step into the blackness of space.
To survive the fall, which will last for a full 15 minutes, he’s going to be wearing a special space suit and a parachute that is designed to automatically deploy when he’s 5,000 feet above the ground.
Along the way, he will reach, and then cross the speed of sound. (And then top out at a speed of around 1,000 MPH) If that sounds crazy, it is. Scientists are still unsure of what will happen when a person crosses the sound barrier unaided.
With those speeds, Fournier will also be breaking four new records: fastest free fall, longest free fall, highest altitude for a human balloon flight and highest parachute jump.
So what are the potential risks?
If his suit fails, the pressure would cause his blood could boil, and he would loose consciousness in less than five seconds. (Which sounds like a blessing if your blood is boiling during those five seconds!)
His first try was yesterday, and was canceled due to weather related complications, so let’s hope that today provides Michel with smoother sailing, and that he finds his way back to Earth in one piece!
[Via: The New York Times]