Wires

Supersonic skydive delayed due to winds over New Mexico

* Stunt would break altitude record and the sound barrier

* Not clear how long launch window will remain open

* Fragile balloon cannot handle strong winds

By Irene Klotz

Oct 9 (Reuters) - Plans for an Austrian daredevil to skydivefrom a balloon 23 miles (37 km) over the New Mexico desert wereon hold on Tuesday due to winds, but his team said thedeath-defying stunt could still happen later in the day.

Felix Baumgartner, a 43-year-old helicopter pilot, hot-airballoonist and professional skydiver, would break a longstandingaltitude record and the sound barrier if the jump goes forward.

Weather will be key. Baumgartner's team issued a statementearly Tuesday morning saying the launch of the massive butfragile helium balloon that would carry him to an altitude of120,000 feet (36,576 meters) above Roswell, New Mexico, had beendelayed until at least 9:30 a.m. EDT (1330 GMT).

The delay was prompted by winds at about 700 feet (213meters) above the launch site, the team said.

It was not immediately clear how long the window for thepossible launch would remain open but it takes about 2.5 to 3hours to reach 120,000 feet.

(Editing by Tom Brown and Doina Chiacu)

((thomas.brown@thomsonreuters.com)(305 810 2688)(ReutersMessaging: thomas.brown.reuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: USA SPACE/SKYDIVE