Felix Baumgartner breaks the speed of sound in
Felix Baumgartner broke the speed of sound reaching an estimated speed of *833.9 mph (1,342.8 km/h) jumping from the stratosphere, which when certified will make him the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall while delivering valuable data for future space exploration.
Felix climbed to 128,100 feet (39,045 meters) in a helium-filled balloon Sunday morning Oct. 14, 2012. This is exactly 65 years after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier flying in an experimental rocket powered airplane. Felix broke two other world records (highest freefall, highest manned balloon flight), leaving the longest freefall record to project mentor Col. Joe Kittinger.
Felix's entire trip back to earth lasted 9:09 minutes, with 4:22 of that time in freefall (without drogue). Countless millions of people around the world watched his ascent and jump live on television broadcasts and live stream on the Internet. At one point during his freefall Baumgartner appeared to spin rapidly, but he quickly re-gained control and moments later opened his parachute as members of the ground crew cheered and viewers around the world heaved a sigh of relief.
"It was an incredible up and down today, just like it's been with the whole project," a relieved Baumgartner said. "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."
Baumgartner and his team spent five years training and preparing for the mission that is designed to improve our scientific understanding of how the body copes with the extreme conditions near space.
* The data on the records set by the jump are preliminary pending confirmation from the authorized governing bodies.