If all goes well, Felix Baumgartner will take about half an hour to get back to Earth during this afternoon's 120,000-foot skydive attempt.

CLICK HERE OR SCROLL DOWN FOR LIVE UPDATES

But the veteran Austrian skydiver's preparations for the record-setting jump have taken years. As the key player in the mission, known as Red Bull Stratos, Baumgartner has been planning the jump since 2005. He began taking test dives in a high-pressure suit from as high as 27,000 feet in 2009.

Why so much planning for one jump?

A lot could go wrong. "His blood could boil. His lungs could overinflate. The vessels in his brain could burst. His eyes could hemorrhage. And, yes, he could break his neck while jumping from a mind-boggling altitude of 23 miles," the Associated Press reported.

Loading Slideshow...
  • P-20121015-00086_News

  • P-20121015-00087_News

  • P-20121015-00007_News

  • P-20121015-00005_News

  • P-20121014-00064_News

  • P-20121014-00068_News

  • P-20121014-00069_News

  • P-20121014-00063_HiRes JPEG 24bit RGB News

  • P-20121014-00066_News

  • P-20121014-00067_News

  • P-20121014-00059_HiRes JPEG 24bit RGB News

  • P-20121014-00058_HiRes JPEG 24bit RGB

  • P-20121014-00061_News

  • P-20121014-00062_HiRes JPEG 24bit RGB News

  • P-20121014-00050_News

  • abc_felix_baumgartner_23_dm_120725_wg

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner is scheduled to attempt the highest parachute jump of all time on Oct. 9, 2012. Here, Baumgartner performs during the first high altitude test jump from an airplane in Taft, California on February 20, 2012.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner during the high altitude test jump.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner during a test jump from a helicopter, April 13, 2009.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner leaps off the 508-meter high Taipei 101 Tower in Taiwan on December 11, 2008.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner at the top of the Christ the Redeemer Statue near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on December 3, 2001. Before Stratos, Baumgartner was best known as a skydiver and BASE jumper.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner during the first manned test flight of the capsule, February 23, 2012.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    The mission control during the first manned test flight.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    The Roswell, New Mexico launch location of the first test flight.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner during the first test flight.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    The capsule just before the second manned test flight, July 25, 2012.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    The capsule in the pressure chamber at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    The interior of the capsule in Lancaster, California on February 1, 2012.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner during wind tunnel test on February 26, 2010.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Retired Air Force Colonel Joe Kittinger with Baumgartner during a press conference in Salzburg, Austria on April 23, 2012. Kittinger holds the record for the highest-altitude jump, which he set in 1960. He is an advisor for the Stratos project and will relay messages to and from Baumgartner during the October jump attempt.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Kittinger just prior to his record setting jump from 102.800 feet in 1960. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Kittinger

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner undergoes scientific tests in Los Angeles, USA on June 11, 2012.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Screen shows brain waves of Baumgartner during scientific test session.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner during the first manned test flight.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner inside the capsule prior to the second manned test flight.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner during training session in Lancaster, California, on February 22, 2012.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Crew members prepare the capsule for the second manned test flight.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Crew members fill the balloon with helium before the second manned test flight.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Baumgartner steps out of the capsule during the second manned test flight.

  • Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Skydive Attempt

    Mission Coordinator Mike Jacobs (L) and Kittinger (R) work during the second manned test flight.

And that's in addition to the technical difficulties of creating a suit and parachute system for a body that will likely break the sound barrier.

The suit, modeled after those worn by pilots of high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft, will regulate the temperature and pressure Baumgartner experiences and provide him with 100% oxygen throughout the jump.

The parachute system will include a special drogue chute that could help stabilize 'Fearless Felix' if he were to start spinning uncontrollably in the upper atmosphere.

A head-over-feet spin can be life-threatening, as it forces blood into the jumper's extremities—at high pressures, this could cause unconsciousness, and even moderate pressures could damage the brain and eyes, according to National Geographic.

The drogue chute can be manually operated, but it will automatically engage if Baumgartner experiences 3.5 Gs or more continuously for at least six seconds.

It's all a far cry from the 43-year-old Baumgartner's earlier exploits as a BASE jumper, when all he needed to leap off Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer statue was a parachute.

Follow Baumgartner's jump with HuffPost Science on the liveblog below. For more, check out our in-depth coverage here.

live blog

Oldest Newest

Share this:

felix baumgartner jump

Share this:

felix baumgartner jump

Share this:

Joe Kittinger on Felix's graceful chute opening.

Share this:

Chute deploys, mission control cheers.

Share this:

Felix reports that the visor is fogging up, but commentator notes that he's getting to warmer altitude.

Share this:

Felix has reached a stable descent, after spinning briefly and reaching a top speed of 729 mph.

Share this:

felix baumgartner jump

Share this:

felix baumgatner jump

Share this:

"Felix is now testing his reserve system on the Chest Pack. After this he will decide whether ready to go or not. Felix is now running through the Egress procedure."

Share this:

From Misson Control, Joe Kittinger runs through checklist in run-up to Baumgartner's leap.

felix baumgartner jump

Share this:

As per Baumgartner's request, flight mentor Joe Kittinger is the only one speaking to him through mission control.

In 1961, Joe Kittinger made a record-setting jump from 102,800 feet. A little background on Kittinger here (VIDEO).

kittingerandbaum

Share this:

"The decision has been made. Felix Baumgartner will jump," the Red Bull Stratos live feed commentator announced.

Baumgartner and Mission Control are beginning a second checklist run-through.

Share this:

"Felix raised an issue with the heat in his visor faceplate. The team currently sees no fog on the faceplate; however Mission Control is investigating the issue. Joe Kittinger from Mission Control enabled a private conversation between himself and Felix. We will keep you updated with updates on the issue as soon as we have them."

Share this:

Mission Control says Baumgartner will jump. Other possibility would have been for him to have descended inside capsule.

Share this:

According to YouTube stats, more than 5.2 million people are watching Felix Baumgartner's live jump on Red Bull Stratos's video stream.

Share this:

Mission Control says balloon almost at maximum size.

felix baumgartner jump

Share this:

Bear in mind that these shots of the balloon are coming from mission control. 115,000 feet and still crystal clear.

Share this:

felix baumgartner jump

Share this:

Mission Control reportedly troubleshooting problem with heating element in Baumgartner's facemask.

Share this:

About 3.4 million people are watching the live video feed right now.

Share this:

Mission control concerned that the balloon is ascending too slowly. It may be necessary to drop more ballast.

felix baumgartner jump

Share this:

Share this:

felix baumgartner jump

Share this:

felix baumgartner and mom

Share this:

Share this:

felix baumgartner

Share this:
Luke Aikins, the skydiving consultant who helped Felix Baumgartner plan for the jump, has a complicated to-do list today. He told HuffPost Science the last four items on today's list are: *Bombs away, Felix *Coordinate the helicopters and Felix's recovery back to the airport *Nice job, Felix

*Drink an ice-cold beer

Share this:

Mission control says we can expect the teardrop-shaped capsule to fatten up as the helium inside expands. The balloon material is 0.001 inch thick--"ten times thinner than a sandwich bag," according to mission control.

felix baumgartner

Share this:

felix baugartner

Share this: