Russian set to beat round-the-world solo balloon record
A Russian adventurer is expected to land in south-western Australia on Saturday, setting a new record for flying solo in a balloon around the world.
Fedor Konyukhov began his flight near Northam, close to Perth in south-western Australia, on 12 July.
The adventurer is suspended from a 56m (184ft) helium and hot-air balloon, in a 2m-cubed carbon-fibre box.
The heating system in the gondola has struggled with the cold conditions outside, with temperatures inside falling below freezing at night.
As well as exhaustion, Mr Konyukhov is battling freezing temperatures and ice in his oxygen mask after being blown south into the Antarctic Circle. "It is scary to be so far down south and away from civilization," he wrote on his blog. His son said temperatures outside the gondola dropped to -50C (-58F).
Mr Konyukhov's son, based at the expedition's support centre in Northam, says he usually communicates with his father by text message and that "mentally, he's very strong", AP reports.
He said his father hopes to land in the wheat fields near Northam some time on Saturday, ahead of schedule.
If all goes as planned, he will shave two days off the current round-the-world balloon record of 13 days and eight hours, set by American Steve Fossett in 2002.
Mr Konyukhov has a taste for extreme adventures. In 2008 he spent 102 days circumnavigating Antarctica alone in a boat, enduring huge waves, freezing temperatures and nearly colliding with a whale, according to organisers.
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