On October 14, Felix Baumgartner, the Austrian skydiver, stepped out of a steel capsule and fell to earth from the stratosphere, topping the previous record for highest parachute jump, which was set by Air Force colonel Joe Kittinger in 1960. Bold projects like this used to be possible only through government funding. Now the adventure world is dominated by individuals and companies with deep pockets.
Here's a breakdown of Baumgartner's jump:
127,852.4 feet: After a massive helium balloon lifts him 24 miles high, Baumgartner opens the hatch to his eight-foot-diameter capsule and launches into the stratosphere.
91,316 feet: Fifty seconds into free fall, Baumgartner reaches his top speed of 843.6 miles per hour and becomes the first person to break the sound barrier with his body, creating a sonic boom that’s caught on amateur video from the ground.
75,000 feet: Baumgartner enters into an uncontrolled flat spin—one of the greatest concerns going into the mission, since G forces can cause blackouts. After 13 seconds he regains control.
Touchdown: Forty-five miles east of Roswell, New Mexico, Baumgartner lands safely, drops to his knees, and raises a hand in triumph for the cameras.