On Sunday afternoon, in Roswell, New Mexico, Red Bull Stratos, the mission to the edge of space, made history, with Felix Baumgartner breaking the sound barrier during his 128,000 feet jump back to earth...
In front of a global audience of millions who watched the mission live, Felix took off, ascending to a total of 24.5 miles in a stratospheric balloon before jumping out. While standing outside his capsule preparing to jump from the edge of space, Felix said: "Sometimes you have to go really high to understand how small you are."
After accelerating to a top speed of 1,342.8kph during a freefall of 4m 19s, Felix deployed his parachute, landing safely on the ground and toppling records that have stood for more than 50 years. In total, Felix's freefall saw him drop 119,846 feet before deploying his parachute
As Felix dropped to his knees, raising his fists in triumph, it was a case of mission accomplished as the team celebrated the unique achievement which includes the breaking of three world records and which will also provide future aerospace projects with a wealth of research and data.
Felix's jump took place exactly 65 years after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier flying in an experimental rocket powered airplane. The 43-year-old Austrian skydiving expert also broke two other world records (highest freefall, highest manned balloon flight), leaving the one for the longest freefall to project mentor Colonel Joe Kittinger.
"It was an incredible up and down today, just like it's been with the whole project," a relieved Baumgartner said. "First we got off with a beautiful launch and then we had a bit of drama with a power supply issue to my visor. The exit was perfect but then I started spinning slowly. I thought I'd just spin a few times and that would be that, but then I started to speed up. It was really brutal at times. I thought for a few seconds that I'd lose consciousness. I didn't feel a sonic boom because I was so busy just trying to stabilize myself. We'll have to wait and see if we really broke the sound barrier. It was really a lot harder than I thought it was going to be."
Baumgartner and his team spent five years training and preparing for the mission that is designed to improve our scientific understanding of how the body copes with the extreme conditions at the edge of space.
Baumgartner had endured several weather-related delays before finally lifting off under bright blue skies and calm winds on Sunday morning. The Red Bull Stratos crew watching from Mission Control broke out into spontaneous applause when the balloon lifted off.
Felix's record-breaking achievements:
- First freefall to break the speed of sound barrier: Felix's top speed during freefall was 1,342.8kph (Mach 1.2)
- Freefall from highest altitude: 128,000 feet (previous record: 102,800 feet)
- Highest manned balloon flight: Float altitude of 128,097 feet (previous record: 113,740 feet)
* The data on the records set by the jump are preliminary pending confirmation from the authorized governing bodies.