Felix Baumgartner, and Austrian pilot, skydiver, and extreme athlete, jumped from a capsule tethered to a balloon 128,000 feet above the earth on Sunday. Baumgartner broke the sound barrier during his free fall, which lasted over 4 minutes, before deploying his parachute and landing softly in a field in New Mexico.
In a mission that had been planned for 7 years, Baumgartner broke 3 world records, highest manned balloon flight, highest free fall, and fastest top speed during free fall. Baumgartner reached speeds over 700 mph during his descent.
Energy drink company Red Bull was the primary sponsor of the jump, which turned out to be one of the biggest marketing events ever as the jump was carried live on television worldwide and streamed live to the internet.
The 43-year old Baumgartner’s communication contact during the flight was retired Air Force Colonel Joe Kittinger, who held the previous record for free fall, 102,800 feet, set back in 1960.
Information gathered from this jump could be used by NASA to produce future escape systems for the space program. Baumgartner’s pressure suit was manufactured by the company responsible for astronaut spacesuits.
During the fall, Baumgartner went into a spin as he approached the sound barrier. He was able to maintain consciousness and correct his position rather than deploy an emergency drag chute. An out of control spin, causing Baumgartner to blackout, was one of the primary concerns of the fall.