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FILE - In this Friday Jan. 22, 2010 photo provided by Red Bull Stratos, Pilot Felix Baumgartner, left, shakes hands with United States Air Force Col. (Ret.) Joe Kittinger, right, following the Red Bull Stratos press conference in New York announcing Baumgartner's plan to attempt to become the first person ever to break the speed of sound with the human body. On Monday, Oct. 8, 2012 over New Mexico, Baumgartner will attempt to jump higher and faster in a free fall than anyone ever before and become the first skydiver to break the sound barrier. Kittinger launched a stratospheric jump in 1960 from 102,800 feet that opened the door for space exploration and whose records Baumgartner aims to break. (AP Images for Red Bull Stratos, David Goldman)

FILE - In this Friday Jan. 22, 2010 photo provided by Red Bull Stratos, Pilot Felix Baumgartner, left, shakes hands with United States Air Force Col. (Ret.) Joe Kittinger, right, following the Red Bull Stratos press conference in New York announcing Baumgartner's plan to attempt to become the first person ever to break the speed of sound with the human body. On Monday, Oct. 8, 2012 over New Mexico, Baumgartner will attempt to jump higher and faster in a free fall than anyone ever before and become the first skydiver to break the sound barrier. Kittinger launched a stratospheric jump in 1960 from 102,800 feet that opened the door for space exploration and whose records Baumgartner aims to break. (AP Images for Red Bull Stratos, David Goldman)

FILE - In this Thursday, March 15, 2012 photo provided by Red Bull Stratos, Felix Baumgartner prepares to jump during the first manned test flight for Red Bull Stratos over Roswell, N.M. On Monday, Oct. 8, 2012 over New Mexico, Baumgartner will attempt to jump higher and faster in a free fall than anyone ever before and become the first skydiver to break the sound barrier. (AP Photo/Red Bull Stratos, Jay Nemeth)

FILE - In this Thursday, March 15, 2012 photo provided by Red Bull Stratos, Felix Baumgartner prepares to jump during the first manned test flight for Red Bull Stratos over Roswell, N.M. On Monday, Oct. 8, 2012 over New Mexico, Baumgartner will attempt to jump higher and faster in a free fall than anyone ever before and become the first skydiver to break the sound barrier. (AP Photo/Red Bull Stratos, Jay Nemeth)

Skydiver aims to break sound barrier in free fall

Last Modified: Monday, October 01, 2012 2:09 PM

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — One week to go, and skydiving history may be made.

Next Monday, "Fearless Felix" Baumgartner will attempt the highest, fastest free fall in history and try to become the first skydiver to break the sound barrier.

He plans to jump from a helium balloon 23 miles over the New Mexico desert and reach 690 mph, or Mach 1. He will be wearing a pressurized suit and helmet like an astronaut.

It is venture fraught with risks — including the possibility of deadly bubbles in the bloodstream and a massive clot in the brain.

His chief medical adviser is a former NASA flight surgeon who lost his wife in the space shuttle Columbia disaster and has dedicated himself to improving astronauts' odds of surviving a high-altitude disaster.

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