Today Felix Baumgartner rode a 100-foot helium balloon to 71,581 feet (13.6 miles) before jumping, using a special pressurized suit and parachute system to land safely. His jump was a test run for his eventual attempt to break Colonel Joseph Kittinger's world-record parachute jump of 19.5 miles.
I wish Felix the best of luck in this endevour, which is as exciting and risky as it sounds. Because I've previously published a short story about high-altitude ballooning and parachuting, I considered boring people with a long examination of the science behind Felix's attempt. Instead, how about I simply let people read that short story, which is titled "Where Away You Fall" and was published in the December 2008 issue of Analog: Science Fiction and Fact.
If you enjoy "Where Away You Fall" keep an eye out for my story "Heaven's Touch" in the August 2012 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction. The new story is a sequel to "Where Away You Fall" and features the return of the main character Dusty, except this time instead of being stuck on a balloon she's marooned on a comet far from Earth.