Winds again prevent death-defying leap high above Roswell, N.M.
ROSWELL, N.M. — Blame it on the wind. Again.
For the second consecutive day, extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner aborted his planned death-defying 23-mile free fall because of the weather — postponing at least until Thursday his quest to become the world's first supersonic skydiver.
As he sat Tuesday morning in the pressurized capsule waiting for a 55-story, ultra-thin helium balloon to fill and carry him into the stratosphere, a 25-mph gust rushed across a field near the airport in Roswell, N.M.
The wind rushed so fast that it spun the still-inflating balloon as if it was a giant plastic grocery bag, raising concerns at mission control about whether the balloon was damaged.
The balloon is so delicate that it can take off only if winds are 2 mph or below on the ground.
“Not knowing if the winds would continue or not, we made the decision to pull the plug,” mission technical director Art Thompson said.
Baumgartner's team said he has a second balloon and intends to try again.
Thompson said the earliest the team could take another shot would be Thursday because of weather and the need for the crew — which worked all night Monday — to get some rest.
The cancellation was made a day after organizers postponed takeoff because of high winds. They scheduled Tuesday's for 6:30 a.m.
When winds died down, Baumgartner, 43, suited up and entered the capsule. Crews began filling the balloon.
The team's discovery that it had lost one of two radios in the capsule and a problem with the capsule delayed the decision to begin filling the balloon, pushing the mission close to a noon cutoff for launch.
The free fall should provide scientists with valuable information for next-generation spacesuits and techniques that could help astronauts survive accidents.
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