Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner fell to Earth from 24 miles up Sunday, enrapturing millions of people following a live feed of his stunt as he became the first human being to travel faster than the speed of sound without the assistance of a craft.
During a four-minute, 20-second free fall, he reached a speed
of Mach 1.24 or 833.9 miles per hour, according to an official with the
National Aeronautic Association.
The data on Baumgartner’s jump is preliminary until verified by
international authorities, including those in Austria, Baumgartner’s
He stands to have broken three records: the highest jump from a
platform, the longest free fall without a drogue parachute and the
highest vertical velocity.
“These are mind-blowing numbers,”
Baumgartner said at a news conference later. “When I was standing there
on top of the world, you become so humble, you do not think about
breaking records anymore, you do not think about gaining scientific
data. The only thing you want is you want to come back alive.”
When asked how it felt to travel faster than the speed of sound,
Baumgartner said it was “hard to describe” because he “didn’t feel it at
all.” The pressurized suit operated much like a casket, protecting him
against the thin air and keeping his bodily fluids from essentially
boiling at the high altitude.
Baumgartner, 43, completed his
historic sky-dive above Roswell, N.M., a location chosen for its
favorable weather conditions — a critical component of the high-risk
mission. He was guided throughout the feat by retired Air Force Col.
Joseph Kittinger, who held the previous record for highest sky-dive, for
his 1960 jump from a balloon just over 19 miles up.
Baumgartner, clearly proud of what he and his team had achieved, said
that he looked forward to being in Kittinger’s shoes in the future and
guiding another aspiring supersonic traveler to achieve the dream of
falling from the edge of space.