Felix Baumgartner has taken history to new heights – literally.
The daredevil skydiver, 43, landed on the ground Sunday after a record-breaking jump from the edge of space about 128,000 feet – that’s more than 24 miles – above the Earth, becoming the first person to break the sound barrier sans the safeguard of a vehicle.
Supported by NASA alum and aircraft designers from the Red Bull Stratos team, Baumgartner free-fell, at one point hitting Mach 1.24 – or 834 mph – before he opened his parachute and glided to safety in Roswell, N.M.
“He made it – tears of joy from Mission Control,” his team said in a live feed.
His jump, however, was not the longest-lasting free fall, a distinction that still belongs to Col. Joe Kittinger, who jumped 102,800 feet in 1960 for a U.S. Air Force mission. Kittinger served as Baumgartner’s mentor – the one he listened to through his headset as he redefined human limitation. (Baumgartner’s free fall lasted 4 minutes and 20 seconds.)
Baumgartner’s fall, in which he wore a pressurized suit to protect himself in the near vacuum above Earth, was five years in the making. Earlier in the week, the jump was rescheduled due to high winds.
“I know the whole world is all watching now and I wish you could see what I see,” he said just before jumping into the void. “Sometimes you have to go up really high to understand how small you are.”