Fournier was scheduled to carry out the Grand Saut (Big Jump) project in May 2008, which would have seen him ascend to 130,000 feet in a balloon and freefall 34km to earth before opening his parachute at 6km to go. In the process he was expected to break the sound barrier, and reach speeds upward of 1,000 miles per hour. His freefall was expected to last 15 minutes. If successful, this would have records previously held by Joseph Kittinger, who set the previous parachute record by jumping from in 1960 (with a small parachute for guidance) under Project Excelsior; and Roger Eugene Andreyev from the Soviet Union, who jumped from in 1962, setting the longest free fall record.
The jump was expected to take place over the plains of Saskatchewan, Canada. After several delays due to weather, the attempt was made on 27 May 2008, but the balloon detached from its capsule as it was being inflated and floated away. Another attempt at the record may come as early as August 2008.
Fournier has attempted to break the record on three occasions. In 1998, the French space agency chose Fournier, a French Army paratrooper to conduct a record jump to test the ability of astronauts to survive reentry without a space craft. This project was quickly canceled. In 2003, Fournier attempted his first privately-financed jump but the balloon ripped while being filled. The New York Times reports that Fournier has spent "nearly $20 million" on his two private attempts.