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Man plans record skydive from edge of space

Last Updated: 2:37am BST 14/08/2007

A retired French army colonel is aiming to take a stratospheric leap into the record books by completing a 1000mph skydive from the edge of space.

Aiming to become the first human being to break the sound barrier in free-fall, Michel Fournier will ascend to an altitude of 25 miles in a helium-filled weather balloon before plunging to earth at supersonic speed.

After years of training, millions of pounds of funding and numerous thwarted attempts, the daredevil Frenchman is expected to make the jump over the Saskatchewan plains in Canada next month.

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In the process of le Grand Saut or "Super Jump", the 63-year-old hopes to complete a lofty hat-trick - breaking records for the highest ever parachute jump, the longest sky dive, and the highest altitude achieved by a person in a balloon.

Mr Fournier will be dressed in a £35,000 carbon fibre suit designed to protect him from freezing temperatures of -100C, as well as from extremely high temperatures caused by the air resistance created by his high-speed fall.

A re-enforced crash helmet will protect his ears from the thunderous sonic boom he will create as he breaks the sound barrier.

He will also have to spend hours before his leap inhaling pure oxygen to dispel any traces of nitrogen from his blood due to the thinness of the air at 40,000m.

Over the past two decades Mr Fournier has sold antique furniture, a prized gun collection and even his home to press ahead with his dream of completing the record-breaking dive.

He came closest in 2003, when his attempt was thwarted as his balloon burst shortly before lift-off.

"People have said I am too old, but I am very fit and have trained hard," said the veteran of more than 8,500 parachute jumps who has followed a rigorous training regime including running, lifting weights, and yoga.

"I would be lying if I said I wasn't afraid, but I am also very excited. It really is a leap into the unknown."

SW :D

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Watch out for the first step, it's a biggy. :D

A re-enforced crash helmet will protect his ears from the thunderous sonic boom he will create as he breaks the sound barrier.

On a serious note. Will he hear the sonic boom? or is this journalistic licence in that the wind noise at subsonic speeds will be deafening? (Until he reaches the normal terminal velocity when the air density increases) I'm not sure.

Good luck to him.

Martin

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Does sound a bit mad - especially from a frenchman !!!

I would have thought that if he passed the sound barrier then the sonic boom would be behind him i.e. he would be travelling faster than the sound. Don't fancy arguing the point since Francis is now laid up with a bad knee he can spend hours telling me why its not the case ;) can't believe he sold his prized gun collection to fund the venture - definately a madman !!!

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  • 4 months later...
Does sound a bit mad - especially from a frenchman !!!

I would have thought that if he passed the sound barrier then the sonic boom would be behind him i.e. he would be travelling faster than the sound. Don't fancy arguing the point since Francis is now laid up with a bad knee he can spend hours telling me why its not the case ;) can't believe he sold his prized gun collection to fund the venture - definately a madman !!!

maybe he should have done his research, this was done way back in the 50s or 60s by Joe kittinger

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He can't go through the sound barrier in free-fall!

They are implying that he will be falling at a greater speed than the speed of sound at sea level ( as did colonel Kittinger when he did his jump as part of the space program).

Speed is all relative to the density of the air and he will feel no different than if he jumped from 20000ft.

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Speed is all relative to the density of the air and he will feel no different than if he jumped from 20000ft.

At very high altitude the low air density ie greater intermolecular spacing will provide considerably less drag hence he will achieve a considerably faster descent than in the relatively much more dense air at 20000' , a higher proportion of the in vacuum notional '1g' freefall acceleration of c32'/sec/sec. At more 'draggy' heights with the slower terminal velocities achievable (within the range adjustment depending on attitude - head down spear in through to student stabilised!) this proportion will inevitably be lower.

The difference between the vacuum '1g' freefall and what is actually achieved is experienced as the apparent weight of internal organs, the initial step out at 25 miles will feel a lot closer to real freefall than the equivalent at more recreational altitudes where although rather different from normal ground level sensations it is far from being zero weight in the 'down' direction!

To try different densities slowing descent and feel the different proportions of internal organ relative weight, do a few thousand foot freefall, then try the same thing in water by taking a good deep breath and grabbing an anvil!

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Seriously, to set a British record it would be better immediately after the Tip to Tip given the relative proximity of Britain's highest point above sea level don't you think?

Alternatively, a record could be set with a pilot taking off at sea level and then whatever height is gained until the fuel runs out would then be the benchmark.

I would suggest NOT going to the Guiness Book of World Ripoffs. They charge a helluva lot of money just to tell you if something is a record, and a helluva lot more to verify an attempt.

Contacting FAI would be much cheaper and more appropriate. :D:D

http://www.flymicro.com/records/index.cfm?record=howto

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