On Sunday, October 14th, Felix Baumgartner from Austria successfully skydived from 23 miles above Earth to break a world record. Baumgartner was officially the first skydiver to break the sound barrier, more than three times higher than the cruising altitude of jetliners.
Baumgartner’s capsule left from a desert wasteland in New Mexico. He left Earth in a pressurized capsule carried by a 55-story helium balloon, which took approximately three hours to make its way into the stratosphere. Felix, in a high-tech suit, jumped into a near vacuum with no oxygen. This would commence the fastest and farthest free fall from the highest-ever manned balloon. Though the mission was very thrilling, it was also very dangerous. If Baumgartner made any contact with the capsule throughout the duration of his exit, he could have tore the pressurized suit. This would have exposed him to a lack of oxygen and extremely cold temperatures which could have led him to his death.
One of the men in mission control talking to Baumgartner throughout the journey was a man named Joe Kittinger, who first attempted to break the sound barrier from 19.5 miles in 1960. Kittinger said that if Baumgartner pulled the stunt off, Baumgartner would be nicknamed “Fearless Felix.”
The total jump was expected to take about 10 minutes as Baumgartner descends at a speed of 690 mph and activates his parachute at 9,500 feet above sea level in southeastern New Mexico.
The successful skydive also marked the end of Baumgartner’s career full of high-altitude jumping. “After this,” Baumgartner promised, “I’m going to retire because I’ve been successfully doing things for the last 25 years, and I’m still alive.”
Felix successfully landed, completing the 4 minute 22 second freefall, setting new world records including the highest freefall ever, the fastest freefall ever, and the highest ever manned balloon flight. A record that I”ll without a doubt will never be forgotten.