An upcoming plunge from a balloon could break the world record for skydiving. But the world may have a long wait before the age of true "space jumps."
The Red Bull Stratos "space jump" planned by Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner, 43, won't actually be from space. The Oct. 8 stunt takes aim at an altitude of almost 23 miles, or 120,000 feet (36 kilometers) — well short of the altitude where space begins, 62 miles, or 327,000 feet (100 km), above Earth. Higher jumps probably would require expensive rockets and specialized space-diving suits — not to mention a thriving commercial spaceflight industry with paying customers — to become a reality.