Watch skydiver Felix Baumgartner break speed of sound
Daredevil skydiver Felix Baumgartner became the first person to break the speed of sound Sunday while also making the highest jump ever, as the world watched on the Internet.
After jumping from a balloon from 128,100 feet, more than 24 miles above Earth, Baumgartner hit Mach 1.24, or 833.9 mph, according to preliminary data, to become the first person to reach supersonic speed without traveling in a jet or spacecraft.
“Sometimes we have to get really high to see how small we are,” Baumgartner told reporters outside mission control after the jump.
“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,” added Baumgartner, a 43-year-old former Austrian paratrooper with more than 2,500 jumps behind him. “The only thing you want is to come back alive.”
There were a few tense moments for friends and spectators watching from the command center as Baumgartner initially appeared to spin uncontrollably during the first part of his freefall.
“In that situation, when you spin around, it’s like hell and you don’t know if you can get out of that spin or not,” he said. “Of course it was terrifying. I was fighting all the way down because I knew that there must be a moment where I can handle it.”
But he gained control and says he didn’t even feel the effects of breaking the sound barrier, thanks to the pressurized suit that kept him from noticing the rushing air or the loud noise during what Baumgartner says was his final jump.
According to YouTube, its live stream of the event broke site records with more than 8 million people watching simultaneously.
Baumgartner, who also set the record for the highest manned-balloon flight, did fail to break the record of longest free fall. Joe Kittinger, who first tried to break the sound barrier from 19.5 miles up in 1960, holds that mark at 5 minutes and 35 seconds; Baumgartner’s free fall was timed at 4:20.
“I was putting everything out there, and hope for the best and if we left one record for Joe — hey, it’s fine,” he said of Kittinger, who was a member of Baumgartner’s team at ground control. “We needed Joe Kittinger to help us break his own record and that tells the story of how difficult it was and how smart they were in the ‘60s. He is 84 years old, and he is still so bright and intelligent and enthusiastic.”
It’s Kittinger’s voice you hear talking Baumgartner through the jump on the video above. Take a couple minutes to witness the historic jump.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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