Felix Baumgartner has successfully jumped from a capsule more than 24 miles – nearly 39 kilometers – above Earth’s surface, falling faster than anyone before and breaking the speed of sound in his plunge, before landing safely back on Earth. He dropped for 4 minutes 19 seconds and reached a maximum speed of 1,137 kilometers per hour (706 miles per hour), which, when certified, will make Baumgartner the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall. It was called the Red Bull Stratos Mission to the Edge of Space, and it began shortly after 2 p.m. EDT (18 UTC) on October 14, 2012, when Baumgartner opened his capsule high above Roswell, New Mexico and stepped off a platform. Shortly after landing safely, he attended a press conference in Roswell, where he said:
Trust me, when you stand up there on top of the world, you become so humble. It’s not about breaking records anymore. It’s not about getting scientific data. It’s all about coming home.
The 43-year-old Austrian skydiving expert said the most exciting moment of the jump took place as he stood on the platform, moments before his plunge.
Baumgartner’s jump came 65 years to the day after Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier at more than 30,000 feet above California’s Mojave Desert. That happened on October 14, 1947. But Baumgartner went supersonic today using just his body.
Millions watched online as Baumgartner made his jump. You can watch after the fact, via the video below. Skip to about 13:55 to catch Felix moments before he makes the plunge.
Bottom line: After flying to an altitude of 39,044 meters (128,097 feet) in a helium-filled balloon, Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner completed a record-breaking jump from the edge of space on October 14, 2012. He reached an estimated speed of 1,137 kilometers per hour, which when certified will make him the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall. He made his jump 65 years to the day after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier in a jet plane. The 43-year-old skydiving expert also broke two other world records (highest freefall, highest manned balloon flight). The record for longest freefall remains with Joe Kittinger, who was a mentor to Baumgartner in this project.