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Russian Aims for World Record in Solo Balloon Trek Around Globe

Image: Russian Adventurer Takes Off In Hot Air Balloon For Non-Stop Round-The-World Record Attempt
Fedor Konyukhov lifts off from the Northam Aero Club on July 12 in Northam, Australia. Paul Kane / Getty Images

PERTH, Australia — A Russian adventurer launched his hot-air-helium balloon from an Australian Outback town on Tuesday in a bid to set a record for flying around the world non-stop.

Fedor Konyukhov launched his 170-foot tall balloon from the same field outside Northam in Western Australia state where American adventurer Steve Fossett started his circumnavigation of the globe in 2002.

The 65-year-old hopes to complete the journey in a cramped gondola in less than the 13 days that Fossett took. Fossett died in a plane crash in 2007.

From Northam, 60 miles northeast of the state capital Perth, the 1.6 metric ton (1.8 U.S. ton) balloon is expected to fly east across Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina and South Africa before returning to Australia after drifting more than 19,000 miles.

The launch was originally scheduled for July 2, but weather conditions forced a delay.

Image: Russian Adventurer Takes Off In Hot Air Balloon For Non-Stop Round-The-World Record Attempt
Fedor Konyukhov poses with a boomerang gift before lifting off from the Northam Aero Club on July 12 in Northam, Australia. The 65-year-old Russian adventurer aims to set a new world record by circumnavigating the globe without touching down in under 13 days. Paul Kane / Getty Images