Space jumper Felix Baumgartner fell into the history books Sunday, jumping to Earth from the stratosphere and making him the first man to break the speed of sound in free fall.
Starting at over 128,000 feet in a helium-filled balloon, 43-year-old Baumgartner’s record comes exactly 65 years after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier flying in an experimental rocket-powered airplane.
The Austrian skydiving expert also broke records for the highest free fall and the highest manned balloon flight.
Baumgartner spent five years training for the mission, designed to improve our understanding of how the body copes with the extreme conditions at the edge of space.
Skydivers typically jump from an altitude of 12,000 to 14,000 feet and reach a speed of about 115 miles per hour. Baumgartner’s record, when verified, will be about ten times higher and ten times faster.
“It was an incredible up and down today, just like it’s been with the whole project,” a relieved Baumgartner said in a release from Red Bull, the sponsor of the jump.
“First we got off with a beautiful launch and then we had a bit of drama with a power supply issue to my visor,” added Baumgartner. “It was really a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.”