Red Bull: Stratos

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Red Bull's Stratos Project, which we previously wrote about in 2010, will finally see Austrian athlete Felix Baumgartner attempt a "leap from the edge of space" this August.

Fueled by Red Bull, Baumgartner will attempt to skydive from a stratosphere-placed balloon at 120,000 feet. The project aims to break four records at the same time, which have remained unbroken since Col. Joe Kittinger's freefall from 102,800 feet in 1960. If Baumgartner's mission is successful, the mission will have been the highest manned balloon flight, the highest skydive and the longest freefall, expected to be 5-and-a-half minutes. Baumgartner will also become the first person to break the speed of sound during freefall.

A couple of years ago, the project was put on hold after Daniel Hogan, a California promoter, filed charges that the idea of a high-altitude skydive was originally his. The suit has since been settled out of court.

The project also has a notable scientific angle. All findings and breakthroughs will be shared with the aviation and aerospace science community, just like Kittinger's mission, which had proved to be instrumental in developments like space suits and near-space safety. Kittinger is now part of the Red Bull team advising the mission.

Art Thompson, an engineer who previously helped work on the B-2 Stealth bomber, conducted simulated tests at the Brooks City Base in Texas, including a successful altitude chamber test.

Baumgartner's mission will take place in Roswell, N.M. The entire journey will be livestreamed on the Red Bull Stratos Web site, which also delves deeper into Baumgartner, the shuttle and the scientific nature of the mission. The BBC is also working on a 90-minute documentary, along NatGeo, which will premiere after the jump.

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