Bringing the Text to Life
Rodd Millner's an Australian ex-commando. Sometime within the next few weeks, he will perform a stunt that will either stretch the frontiers of science or the boundaries of insanity.
He's going to sky-dive from space.
Millner intends to climb into a spacesuit and ride a balloon to a height of 130,000 feet, up to the very edge of the atmosphere. That's an altitude higher than four Mount Everests stacked on top of one another. Once he gets there, he will jump. Plummeting toward earth, he will reach a speed of between 700 and 900 miles per hour within a minute of leaping from the balloon. If all goes well, he will be the first human to break the sound barrier without a vehicle.
He'll slow down as he falls down. He'll reach what's called "terminal velocity," a steady speed created by the collision of air molecules with a falling body. At higher altitudes there are fewer air molecules to bump into, so a body can travel at velocities of 900 miles per hour. But as divers approach the earth...