Red Bull Stratos announced via Twitter Wednesday that Felix Baumgartner will not be able to resume his pursuit of four free fall world records Thursday, as the team had hoped. Don Day, the team's meteorologist, said the earliest weather window opening is Sunday, October 14.
Baumgartner is attempting to free fall from 120,000 feet above the Earth, breaking a record that has held for more than 50 years. He is also trying to become the first person to break the sound barrier in free fall.
The 43-year-old Austrian athlete was moments from lift-off Tuesday morning in Roswell, New Mexico, when the mission was aborted. The helium balloon that will lift him into the stratosphere was suddenly toppled by a gust of wind.
"As we inflated the balloon and got Felix into the capsule at about 11:42 a.m., we experienced a gust of wind that took us above 22 knots at the peak of the balloon," said Red Bull Stratos Project Director Art Thompson.
Thompson explained that the gust had twisted the balloon in a way that could have damaged the delicate polyethylene material. "The integrity of the balloon at that point is really unknown and unacceptable to use for manned flight because we were not sure what would happen as we launch," he said. "Our biggest problem was the wind at the 750-foot level."
Baumgartner was inside the capsule at the time and was not aware of the sudden wind.
"When Art told me we were aborting the mission I thought it was a joke," said Baumgartner. "I thought there was no way that the conditions were not right."
The Red Bull Stratos team was hoping to have favorable conditions for a Thursday launch, but will now prepare for the next weather window to open on Sunday.