Daredevil Felix Baumgartner has become the first man to successfully jump from a balloon 24 miles (127,000 ft) up in the air, breaking a more than half-century old record set by Joe Kittinger in 1960.
Part of the Red Bull Stratos project, this was the Austrian skydiver's third jump from the stratosphere, with two prior test jumps maxing out at 97,146 ft and 537mph. The main mission of Stratos, funded by the energy drink company, was to have Baumgartner be the first man to break the speed of sound in free fall. The official results are still being determined, but the 42-year-old reached speeds of 729mph in his descent wearing only a pressurized suit, helmet and parachute.
According to the Red Bull Stratos Twitter page, one record that Baumgartner did break for sure was for the highest manned balloon flight at over 113,740 ft. The free fall lasted 4 minutes with Baumgartner landing on his feet in the eastern New Mexico desert. The only problem Baumgartner complained about during his slow ascent above the Earth in a helium-filled stratospheric balloon was his helmet's heating system after it fogged up.
"This is the best day of my life," tweeted Baumgartner after the jump.
A press conference with Baumgartner and members of the 70-member Stratos team -- engineers and scientists who worked on the project for more than five years -- is scheduled for later today (Oct. 14).