Skydiver Felix Baumgartner's attempt at the highest, fastest free fall in history Tuesday is more than just a stunt.
His planned 23-mile dive from the stratosphere should provide scientists with valuable information for next-generation spacesuits and techniques that could help astronauts survive accidents.
Jumping from more than three times the height of the average cruising altitude for jetliners, Baumgartner hopes to become the first person to break the sound barrier outside of an airplane. His team has calculated that to be 690 mph based on the altitude of his dive.
On Monday, the team remained optimistic for liftoff. The best window for the week is Tuesday and Wednesday, before another front is expected to move in.
Baumgartner is to be lifted into the stratosphere beginning around 7 a.m. MDT by a helium balloon that will stretch 55 stories high.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.