Felix Baumgartner and his Red Bull Stratos team were forced to abort mission Tuesday morning when gusty winds played havoc with the helium balloon as it was being filled on the tarmac.
At 11:42 a.m. MDT, with Baumgartner in his pressurized space suit and inside the Red Bull Stratos capsule, mission control announced that his record-breaking attempt to free fall 120,000 feet would have to wait another day.
On the live webcast -- broadcast from the launch site in Roswell, New Mexico -- viewers could see the balloon wobble vigorously and knock against the ground. It will be replaced with a back-up balloon, but whether or not weather conditions will be favorable for flight on Wednesday has yet to be decided.
The delay was actually the second of the day. Baumgartner was planning on lifting off in the early dawn hours, and at 3:30 a.m. MDT, he finished his medical check and about an hour later the capsule had completed final testing.
"The next time we talk, I'm going to be the person who has the second-highest parachute jump in the world." Joe Kittinger said at the Weather Brief, according to the Red Bull Stratos Twitter feed.
But winds pushed the scheduled launched an hour, and then another technical issue delayed the mission. There appeared to be a calm window in the late morning local time, so Baumgartner prepared for lift-off.
Preparation for flight is a lengthy process. Baumgartner had to breathe pure oxygen for about an hour and a half to rid his system of nitrogen, and the helium balloon can take up to an hour to fill up fully. There was about another 30 minutes to go before the sudden gust encroached on Baumgartner's plans.
"We knew that we only had a small window today which we finally did not hit," said Art Thompson, Red Bull Stratos Project director.
"When Art told me we were aborting the mission I thought it was a joke," said Baumgartner. "I thought there is no way, that the conditions were not right. I couldn't tell what was happening with the balloon because I was in the capsule."
Red Bull Stratos said it will announce new launch dates shortly, although the team ruled out an attempt on Wednesday.
"I want this to happen this year," said Baumgartner. "We've made it so far. There's no turning back. We're here, we've got the helium and we're good to go. Whether that's tomorrow or the first day next week, I don't really care."
- Supersonic man: Interview with Felix Baumgartner
- What a free fall from the edge of space looks like
- The team behind Red Bull Stratos