Monday, June 2, 2008

Michel Fournier Skydive Attemp Fails

1st\NW Quadrant The Approval Matrix

(David Boily/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

Michel Fournier, the retired French Army officer who hoped to fly a giant helium balloon about 25 miles above Earth and parachute down, has failed again.

Tuesday morning before dawn, Fournier and his team of 40 readied for what he has called Le Grand Saut (The Great Leap) from an airport in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. But as spectators watched, his 650-foot-high balloon inflated, then suddenly floated away, leaving the gondola with Fournier inside on the ground. The damaged balloon was recovered 25 miles away.

Fournier, 64, had planned to climb into the pressurized gondola of the balloon and make a two-hour journey to 130,000 feet. At that altitude, almost 25 miles up, he would see both the blackness of space and the curvature of the Earth.

Then he planned to step out of the capsule, wearing only a special spacesuit and a parachute, and plunge to Earth in 15 minutes. If successful, Fournier would fall longer, farther and faster than anyone in history. Fournier’s jump would set four records: fastest free fall, longest free fall, highest altitude for a human balloon flight and highest parachute jump. -- New York Times

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