Space Jumper Breaks Sound Barrier
ROSWELL, NM -- Today at 12:07 p.m. MST Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner fell from a record breaking 128,097 ft. (25 miles) above the earth's surface, falling faster than any man. He reached his top speed of 833 mph, achieving Mach 1.24 and breaking the sound barrier.
"Sometimes you have to [go] up really high to [realize] how small you are," Baumgartner said before dropping from the edge of his pressurized capsule carried by a helium air balloon into a near vacuum.
The breathtaking free fall took 4 minutes and 20 seconds. After breaking the sound barrier Baumgartner began to spin out of control which could have exerted G forces to make him lose consciousness. He then regained his headfirst downward descent toward earth before opening his parachute and safely landing.
"I had a lot of pressure in my head. Do i push that button and stay alive or do I keep going to break the speed of sound," Baumgartner said referring to an emergency parachute release button which would have leveled out his out of control spinning.
One problem that did occur during the ascent up was a heater failure in Baumgartner's helmet faceplate; creating fog when he exhaled. All considered, the team went ahead with the mission.
"My visor is fogged up," Baumgartner said as he was free falling.
As his parachute sequentially opened up screams and cheers were heard from mission control down below. If Baumgartner's space suit were to tear it would have resulted in deadly bubbles forming in his bodily fluids from a lack of oxygen and exposure to minus 70 degree temperatures.
A record breaking 7.1 million people watched the 20-second delayed video online as Baumgartner fell to earth. His mother was in tears while his mentor Joe Kittinger cheered his recovery. Kittinger, 84, was the only person in Baumgartner's ear during the Red Bull Stratos project and was the last record holder back in 1960; falling 102,800 ft. at around 614 mph. Kittinger still holds the record for longest free fall time.
"I couldn't of done it better myself," Kittinger said as Baumgartner safely descended back to the desert.
Baumgartner previously had to see a sports psychologist after suffering from panic attacks and removing himself from the project. After defeating his neurosis Baumgartner continued the mission, planning to jump on Oct. 9, when it was canceled again due to high winds. Today's date also marks the anniversary of Chuck Yaeger's breaking the sound barrier for the first time in an aircraft back in 1947.
"Standing on top of the world it makes you so humble. You do not think about breaking records, you think about coming home alive," Baumgartner said at the press conference that followed.
This was Baumgartner's final jump of his career. He will now be flying in helicopter rescue missions in the U.S. and Austria.
Full Video of jump below: