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'Fearless Felix' Does It!

Baumgartner describes history-making jump

Felix Baumgartner
Felix Baumgartner celebrates with Red Bull Stratos technical project director Art Thompson after Baumgartner's record-breaking parachute jump from the edge of space Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Red Bull Stratos)

October 14, 2012 - Despite a few dicey moments, Austrian Felix Baumgartner became the first human to go faster than the speed of sound Sunday over Roswell, New Mexico, during the highest parachute jump ever made.

With millions watching around the world on the web, "Fearless Felix" ascended to more than 24 miles altitude - 128,097 feet - in an 855,000-cubic-meter helium balloon, exited the Red Bull Stratos pressurized capsule and achieved a maximum speed of 833.9 mph (Mach 1.24) during a four-minute, 19-second freefall, according to Brian Utley of the International Federation of Sports Aviation. Total time exit to touchdown was nine minutes, three seconds. All records will need verification before becoming official.

When the power for his visor heater malfunctioned, Baumgartner's vision became impaired and nearly jeopardized the mission, according to Red Bull Stratos. Also during his freefall Baumgartner, 43, appeared to spin rapidly, but he quickly regained control and moments later opened his parachute.

"It was an incredible up and down today, just like it's been with the whole project," Baumgartner said after making history. "First we got off with a beautiful launch and then we had a bit of drama with a power supply issue to my visor. The exit was perfect but then I started spinning slowly. I thought I'd just spin a few times and that would be that, but then I started to speed up. It was really brutal at times. I thought for a few seconds that I'd lose consciousness.

"I didn't feel a sonic boom because I was so busy just trying to stabilize myself. We'll have to wait and see if we really broke the sound barrier. It was really a lot harder than I thought it was going to be."

After deploying his parachute, Baumgartner took less than five minutes to reach the ground. When he touched down he victoriously lifted his arms to cheering onlookers, both in New Mexico and around the world.

The jump, originally scheduled for Monday, October 8, was postponed twice due to excessive winds. He far surpassed the goal of 120,000 feet (23 miles) in an effort to eclipse the 52-year-old mark of 100,000 feet established by Joe Kittinger in 1960.

For more information on the epic achievement, visit the Red Bull Stratos website.

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