An Austrian man jumps from more than 24 miles in the sky, falling for more than four minutes and reaching speeds of more than 700 miles per hour.
That man is now being hailed as an aerospace pioneer.
With a heart-pounding hop into the stratosphere, Felix Baumgartner makes history.
He jumps from 128,000 feet above the earth, 24 miles up; higher than anyone before him.
During free-fall, he spun for a few harrowing moments but stabilized quickly.
“Starting spinning so violent. It spun me around in all different axes, you know, and I was always trying to figure out how to stop this. I was putting one arm out, it didn’t work, then putting the other arm out, but you’re always late, because at that speed, when you travel at that speed, with that suit (and it’s pressurized), you don’t feel the air at all.”
In those first seconds, he broke another record: no one had ever gone through the sound barrier outside a vehicle.
Baumgartner reached a top speed of more than 700 miles an hour, well past the speed of sound.
Free-fall lasted 4 minutes 19 seconds before his parachute opened.
That’s short of the record for the longest free-fall in history but after he safely touched down, the man known as ‘fearless Felix’ was hailed as an aerospace pioneer.
“It’s hard to realize what happened right now, because there’s still so many emotions. I had tears in my eyes when I was coming back a couple of times, because you’re sitting there and you thought about that moment so many times, how it would feel and what it would look like, and this is way bigger than I had anticipated.”
This mission had been five years in the planning.
In Baumgartner’s ear during the ascent: Colonel Joe Kittinger, the man whose record Baumgartner broke.
Kittinger had jumped from 102,000 feet in 1960.
Baumgartner and Kittinger were interviewed together, earlier this year.
“Are you jealous of Felix that he’s going to break your record?”
“Oh, no. I’m delighted. I’m delighted he’s going to do it. He’s advancing science and he’ll do a great job.”
Mission leaders and space officials hope this jump will show them if astronauts, space-tourists, or high-altitude pilots can survive for any extended period outside a vehicle if there’s a malfunction.
If it held up as expected, Baumgartner’s high-pressure suit could be the next-generation suit for future missions.
What will Felix Baumgartner do next?
He said that after this jump, he wants to pursue an occupation as a helicopter rescue pilot… might be a bit of a let-down.
-Brian Todd, CNN Washington.