Austrian extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner landed on Earthy after a 24-mile (38.6-kilometer) jump from the stratosphere in a dramatic, record-breaking feat that officials said made him the first skydiver to fall faster than the speed of sound.
Baumgartner came down in the eastern New Mexico desert about nine minutes after jumping from his capsule 128,100 feet (39,045 meters), or roughly 24 miles (38.6 kilometers), above Earth. He lifted his arms in victory shortly after landing, setting off loud cheers from jubilant onlookers and friends inside the mission’s control center in Roswell, New Mexico.
Figures show Baumgartner reached a maximum speed of 833.9 mph (1,342 kph). That amounts to Mach 1.24, which is faster than the speed of sound. No one has ever reached that speed wearing only a high-tech suit.
The altitude he leapt from also marked the highest-ever for a skydiver — more than three times the height of the average cruising altitude for a jetliner. Organizers said the descent lasted just over nine minutes, about half of it in free fall.
Three hours earlier, Baumgartner, known as “Fearless Felix,” had taken off in a pressurized capsule carried by a 55-story ultra-thin helium balloon. After an at-times tense ascent, which included concerns about how well his facial shield was working, the 43-year-old former military parachutist completed a final safety check-list with mission control.