It will be one giant leap for man – and leave the rest of mankind dizzy at the thought.
The world’s most daring skydiver is preparing to jump out of a balloon on the edge of space.
Felix Baumgartner, 42, hopes to break an altitude record which has lasted more than 50 years.
He plans to dive 120,000ft – nearly 23 miles – from the adapted weather balloon full of helium.
It should take 35 seconds to break the sound barrier and ten minutes in all, reaching more than 690mph.
Baumgartner will not deploy his parachute until he is less than 5,000ft from the ground and he must rely on an astronaut suit and oxygen tanks to keep him alive.
His team is expected to announce formally this week that he will make the record-breaking jump above New Mexico in August.
Baumgartner will make two test jumps at 60,000ft and 90,000ft in the coming months before the world record attempt, sponsored by the energy drink manufacturer Red Bull.
He had intended to make the leap last year but a promoter named Daniel Hogan claimed the stunt was his idea and took legal action. The claim has now been settled, clearing the way for the ultimate skydive.
Baumgartner, an Austrian helicopter pilot, hopes to break four world records: Highest-altitude freefall, highest manned balloon flight, longest distance travelled in freefall and fastest freefall. His previous records include lowest parachute jump, 95ft off the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, and highest jump from a building – 1,479ft from the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
In 2003 he also became the first person to skydive across the English Channel.
Engineers have spent more than two years refining the suit which will keep him alive in temperatures of -70c.
The current altitude record was set by U.S. Air Force colonel Joe Kittinger, who jumped from a balloon at 102,800ft in 1960. Commercial airliners typically cruise at 35,000ft.