A retired French army colonel is aiming to take a stratospheric leap into the record books by completing a 1000mph (1,600km/h) skydive from the edge of space in Canada next month.

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Aiming to become the first human being to break the sound barrier in free-fall, Michel Fournier will ascend to an altitude of 25 miles (40km) in a helium-filled weather balloon before plunging to earth at supersonic speed.

In the process of le Grand Saut or "Super Jump", the 63-year-old hopes to complete a lofty hat-trick – breaking records for the highest ever parachute jump, the longest sky dive, and the highest altitude achieved by a person in a balloon.

Mr Fournier will be dressed in a £35,000 ($70,700) carbon fibre suit designed to protect him from freezing temperatures of -100C, as well as from extremely high temperatures caused by the air resistance created by his high-speed fall. A re-enforced crash helmet will protect his ears from the thunderous sonic boom he will create as he breaks the sound barrier.

He will also have to spend hours before his leap inhaling pure oxygen to dispel any traces of nitrogen from his blood due to the thinness of the air at 40,000m (131,000ft).

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Source: Telegraph