Stunning images of record-breaking skydiver, Felix Baumgartner, as he completes his last checklist, steps out of the capsule, and falls to earth. From a height of 128,097ft (24.2 miles; 39km). You can also see the flatspin that almost scuppered the attempt to break the sound barrier.
The voice on CAPsuleCOMmunications is that of retired US Air Force Col Joe Kittinger who has been an integral part of Baumgartner’s record attempt team. Col Kittinger has held the record for the previous highest [102,800ft (31.3km)], farthest, and longest freefall since setting it in 1960. And he still holds one of those records, as Baumgartner’s freefall lasted for 4 minutes 19 seconds – 17 seconds shorter than the existing record. Apparently the plan was to open his parachute at a certain height for safety reasons and, as he told the subsequent press conference, “I stick to the plan.” Indeed.
The Guardian live-blog notes some [rough] figures from the press conference
The preliminary numbers are now in. The big one is speed. Baumgartner reached Mach 1.24, meaning he did break the speed barrier.
His exit was the highest ever recorded: 128,100ft (39,035 meters).
Baumgartner was in freefall for four minutes and twenty seconds.
The freefalling distance was 119,846ft (36,529 meters).
His maximum velocity was 373 meters per second.
That’s 833.9 miles per hour.
And his final words as he prepared to jump.
“Alright now, the whole world is watch now. I wish you could see, what I can see. Sometimes you have to get up really high to understand how small you are. I’m going home now.”
I’ll add the official video highlights when available.
Adds And here are those edited highlights.