Skydiver aims to break sound barrier in free fall

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.