Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner became the first man to break the sound barrier in a record-shattering, death-defying freefall jump on Sunday from the edge of space.
The 43-year-old leapt from a capsule more than 39km above the Earth, reaching a top speed of 1,342kmh, or 1.24 times the speed of sound, according to organizers.
The veteran skydiver was in freefall for four minutes and 20 seconds before opening his red and white parachute and floating down to the desert in the US state of New Mexico, said Red Bull Stratos mission record keeper Brian Utley.
Mission control erupted in cheers as Baumgartner sprung from the capsule hoisted aloft by a giant helium-filled balloon to an altitude of 39,044m, even higher than expected. “I think 20 tons have fallen from my shoulders. I prepared for this for seven years,” he told German-language ServusTV in Austria in his first interview after the leap.
This was literally one of the the coolest things I have ever seen in my life. Awesome. Just awesome. Bravo Mr Baumgartner
“Sometimes, you have to get up really high, to see how small you are. I’m going home now.”
– Felix Baumgartner