Skydiver Fearless Felix leaps from 18 MILES above the Earth
Skydiver ‘Fearless’ Felix Baumgartner today leapt into the stratosphere more than 18 miles above the Earth – nearly three times higher than cruising jetliners.
The Austrian daredevil landed safely near Roswell, New Mexico, after reaching an phenomenal estimated top speed of 536mph during his free fall descent.
It’s a personal best for Mr Baumgartner, who is aiming for a record breaking parachute jump from 23 miles next month. He hopes to go supersonic, breaking the speed of sound with just his body
Man on the edge: Felix Baumgartner of Austria prepares to take the plunge from three times the height of a commercial airplane
‘It has always been a dream of mine,’ Mr Baumgartner said in a statement following the jump today. ‘Only one more step to go.’
Longtime record-holder Joe Kittinger jumped from 19.5 miles in 1960 for the Air Force. Mr Kittinger, now 84, monitored today’s jump.
Mr Baumgartner, 43, ascended alone in an enclosed capsule lifted by a giant helium balloon. He wore a full-pressure suit equipped with parachutes and an oxygen supply.
That far up there is no air to breathe.’It felt completely different at 90,000 feet (27,400 meters),’ Mr Baumgartner said. ‘There is no control when you exit the capsule. There is no way to get stable.’
He was in free fall for an estimated three minutes and 48 seconds before opening his parachutes
NASA is paying close attention to the project called Stratos, short for stratosphere. The U.S. space agency wants to learn all it can about potential escape systems for future rocket ships.
Mr Baumgartner won’t come close to space, even on the ultimate jump that’s planned for late August or early September. Space officially begins at 100 kilometres, or 62 miles.
Mr Baumgartner, a former military parachutist and extreme athlete, has jumped more than 2,500 times from planes and helicopters, as well as from skyscrapers and landmarks, including the 101-story Taipei 101 in Taiwan.
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