Extreme Skydiver Baumgartner Jumps from 24 Miles Up, Breaks Records
UPDATE: It has been preliminarily determined that Baumgartner has broken the sound barrier .
Extreme skydiver Felix Baumgartner finally accomplished a long-held dream today, breaking a variety of long-held skydiving records.
After a long and quiet two and a half hour trip up in a tiny tech-filled capsule under a billowy 13-acre balloon, Baumgartner finally settled out at the upper atmospheric limit of 128,000 feet, a full 6,000 feet above where he was originally seeking to jump. At this time retired Air Force Colonel Joe Kittinger, who jumped over 40 years ago from 102,000 feet and had been in constant contact with Baumgartner, went over a checklist over a secure radio channel.
The entire lofting and dive was streamed live, courtesy of energy drink company Red Bull, who is known for sponsoring extreme events such as Baumgartner's space dive.
After depressurizing the cabin from 8 psi to roughly 0 psi and opening the door, Baumgartner disconnected feeding tubes, oxygen tubes, a helmet tie-down strap, moved his chair back to get his legs out the door, then stepped out onto a tiny skateboard sized step, to stand just below the thin veil where nobody but astronauts have stood.
And he jumped.
The freefall was the second longest in history, as Baumgartner's parachute deployed less than 30 seconds before breaking the current record. At 128,000 feet, however, Baumgartner stole the record for highest skydiving jump, and fastest jump. Determinations are still underway to see if the dive broke Mach 1, the sound barrier.
A press conference will be held live on Red Bull's YouTube channel, where they previously streamed the successful live jump.
After spinning end over end during the first few minutes of the fall, due to a lack of friction from a thin atmosphere, Baumgartner finally caught wind and straightened out, never losing voice contact with Kittinger. With a few minutes of oxygen left in his tanks, Baumgartner's parachute deployed, and he sailed to a perfect 2-point landing, walking off to cheers in the Roswell, New Mexico control room and in living rooms everywhere.