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Leap of faith: Fearless Felix breaks speed of sound after jumping from edge of space in world first

October 15, 2012
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Hurtling towards the earth at 834mph from the edge of space, Felix Baumgartner was a tiny speck against the sky. Millions of people around the world looked on in amazement as the Austrian made history by jumping from a balloon 24 miles from the surface of the earth.

Forty-three-year-old Felix became the first freefall diver to break the sound barrier, also breaking the record for the highest-ever manned balloon ascent. Four seconds after he dove from the impossibly high platform, the daredevil opened his parachute, and less than ten minutes later he was safely back on the ground. After falling to his knees, he punched the air in triumph. A round of applause and cheers broke out in the control room, where watching the nail-biting descent were scientific experts and family including his mother, Eva.

It had taken him two-and-a-half hours to reach his descent point, 128,100ft above the New Mexico desert.

The death-defying jump had easily been the biggest challenge of Felix's career. The accomplished skydiver had previously leapt from skyscrapers and statues around the globe before he started planning the world-first jump. The feat, which took five years careful planning, had been delayed for days due to bad weather.

At first it looked as if it would be delayed again as the heating device in Felix's visor was not working properly, causing it to mist up. But he decided to go ahead after a chat with his mentor Joe Kittinger - an 84-year-old former US Air Force colonel who set the previous freefall record in 1960 when he jumped from 102,800 feet. Scientists were unsure of what the physical effects of breaking the sound barrier in freefall would be. But luckily he arrived to the ground safe and sound. "Trust me, when you stand up there on top of the world, you become so humble," he said afterwards. "It's not about breaking records any more. It's not about getting scientific data. It's all about coming home."

Felix Baumgartner's supersonic freefall from 128k' - Mission Highlights

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