We have takeoff. Extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner has now begun the process of elevating to approximately 37-kilometres where he will free fall from his capsule.

The Austrian daredevil skydiver will attempt to set several records and break the sound barrier with an unprecedented jump.

Assuming everything goes as planned, Baumgartner will be the first person to intentionally break the sound-barrier when he free-falls from more than 30,000 metres above the New Mexico desert.


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You can also watch the event live on Sportsnet and on CityNews Channel.

The jump had to be cancelled on two other occasions last week due to excessive winds. Weather conditions need to be close to perfect to ensure the safety and success of the mission.

So what actually happens when a person free falls from 37 kilometres? Baumgartner hopes to find out during his jump from the edge of space.

Jonathan Clark is heading up the Austrian skydiver’s medical team.

“If you’re going to be above 50,000 feet you wear a pressure suit, or a capsule, above 63,000 feet that’s the layer where water in a liquid state at body temperature spontaneously boils,” Clark said.

The 43-year-old skydiver will travel into the sky in a capsule and balloon, which launched from Roswell around 11:20 a.m. EST.

When Baumgartner does reach the stratosphere, he’ll hurtle himself toward earth, at which point he is expected to reach speeds of more than 1,100 km/h before deploying his parachute.

One of the major risks is that any tear or minor rip in his pressurized suit could expose him to a lack of oxygen and temperatures as low as 70 degrees below zero.

“Three or four minutes of exposure is still survivable, it’s not going to be pretty, he’ll have severe lung damage, but we have three teams positioned around the landing site so that we can get to him very quickly,” Clark said.

He could also lose consciousness and spiral out of control, failing to deploy his parachute.

The project, called Red Bull Stratos, is sponsored by the energy drink maker. (Stratos refers to the stratosphere.) The project costs have not been disclosed.

His dive from the stratosphere is expected to provide scientists with valuable information for next-generation spacesuits.

The event, when it does happen, has been five years in the making.