Felix Baumgartner | News | Science | Tech

Felix Baumgartner Breaks World Skydiving Record: VIDEO


After years of preparation, 43-year old Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner met at least one of his goals when he set the record for the highest ever jump today.

Ascending to 128,000 feet above New Mexico, 25,200 feet more than the previous record, Baumgartner hovered at the edge of space before plummeting back to earth, reaching estimated speeds of 706 mph, but it's unclear whether he indeed broke the sound barrier during his descent. (UPDATE: He did, in fact, break the barrier.)

Now that he's made headlines around the world, Baumgartner says he plans on taking it relatively easy in the years to come. "This is the end of my journey," he said. "I've always been trying to find my limit, and this pretty much it. For the second half of my life, I want to be a good helicopter pilot. Fight fires. Rescue people. That would be fun."

Watch video of Baumgartner's leap AFTER THE JUMP.

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  1. I was completely riveted by this (even though I have vertigo—fear of heights—that made this difficult to watch) — I was thrilled by the results, but it seems that to reach the sound barrier, he would have had to reach 768 mph, so…

    Posted by: tinkerbelle | Oct 14, 2012 5:03:51 PM

  2. That was some jump.

    Posted by: Matt26 | Oct 14, 2012 5:04:05 PM

  3. The speed of sound is not static, it changes based on atmospheric variables. 768 MPH is based on standard barometric pressure, "dry" air (0% humidity), and a temp of 68 degrees. They need to check the conditions & calculate the speed of sound - to see if he was faster...

    Posted by: JSH | Oct 14, 2012 5:23:07 PM

  4. Doesn't look like the conditions matter after all - just read this: "Brian Utley of the International Federation of Sports Aviation said Baumgartner reached a maximum speed of 833.9 mph during his jump Sunday over the New Mexico desert" More than fast enough to break the sound barrier - no matter what :-)

    Posted by: JSH | Oct 14, 2012 5:26:55 PM

  5. Firs man to go supersonic without a vehicle. That's pretty amazing. Congrats Felix.

    Posted by: Rafael | Oct 14, 2012 5:41:29 PM

  6. I hope he broke the sound barrier, I can't find anything where they announce it. Maybe it means he missed it by a fraction, and they don't want to overshadow the amazingness of the jump itself?

    Posted by: PostPonyPhase | Oct 14, 2012 5:46:23 PM

  7. I saw the press event and saw the guy for the first time and let me tell that he is HOT as hell. Also I love his balls of steel for achieving the not so easy task. Kudos for him.

    Posted by: Beto | Oct 14, 2012 5:54:16 PM

  8. The speed of sound in air, at sea level, is 768 miles per hour. I don't know what the speed of sound is an altitude of 128,000 feet, but denser materials conduct sound at a higher speed, so I must assume that the speed of sound is slower at high altitude where the air is less dense, so it is possible that he did break the sound barrier at altitude.

    I watched this event unfold and was very impressed with both Mr. Baumgartner and the previous record-holder from 1960 working as a team! Both of these men are quite courageous individuals, and I wish them both the best in all of their endeavors.

    Posted by: StarGem | Oct 14, 2012 5:58:50 PM

  9. white people

    Posted by: white people | Oct 14, 2012 6:40:32 PM

  10. Oh, come on. Not one mention of how hot he is? You people are slipping with all your rational scientific talk. Where is your stereotypical obsession with physical superficiality?

    Posted by: Apollo | Oct 14, 2012 6:49:12 PM

  11. 833.9 mph, from:Yahoo news feed. I wonder if he stays awake at night now thinking "I bet I could do 1000mph. It's too much to imagine for me. I'd have a stroke. Youngsters.

    Posted by: PostPonyPhase | Oct 14, 2012 6:54:26 PM

  12. yawn.

    Posted by: Pete N SFO | Oct 14, 2012 6:59:33 PM

  13. Dude's got some major cojones. Watch this and it was awesome!

    APOLLO Honey, troll somewhere else.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Oct 14, 2012 7:22:38 PM

  14. But happens with the capsule that took him up there in the first place?

    Posted by: chuy | Oct 14, 2012 7:50:15 PM

  15. "Brian Utley, a jump observer from the International Federation of Sports Aviation, said preliminary figures show Baumgartner reached a maximum speed of 833.9 mph. That amounts to Mach 1.24, which is faster than the speed of sound. No one has ever reached that speed wearing only a high-tech suit.
    Baumgartner says that traveling faster than sound is 'hard to describe because you don't feel it.' With no reference points, 'you don't know how fast you travel' he told reporters......

    Any contact with the capsule on his exit could have torn his pressurized suit, a rip that could expose him to a lack of oxygen and temperatures as low as minus-70 degrees. That could have caused lethal bubbles to form in his bodily fluids.

    But none of that happened...."


    I needed a hero today and he is one....Congrats!

    Posted by: Iban4yesu | Oct 14, 2012 8:25:23 PM

  16. Regarding StarGem's comment:

    1. at 128,000 feet, he was barely moving - his speed increased as he fell until reaching terminal velocity. He was also apparently tumbling for a bit until he could recover from that, which adds a complication (won't go into it right now).

    2. The speed of sound varies as the square root of the temperature, measured from absolute zero, for an ideal gas, and some other factors that are constant for a given gas. One catch - the makeup of air varies with humidity, and the percentage of nitrogen versus oxygen changes with altitude. Temperature, however, varies significantly with altitude.

    Posted by: Bill | Oct 14, 2012 10:15:16 PM

  17. Wow. He can fall.

    Probably the most stupid Stupid Human Trick I've seen. Just what does this accomplish or teach us, other than that some people have more time and money than they know what to do with?

    Posted by: Roy | Oct 15, 2012 12:13:40 AM

  18. @ROY

    The US Air Force tried this exercise to gather information that helped improved parachute designs.

    I can imagine a future where astronauts descent into planets just with their heat resistant pressurized suits, skydiving just like Felix proved possible with his daring jump.

    Posted by: Rafael | Oct 15, 2012 12:43:20 AM

  19. Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner met at least one of his goals when he set the record for the highest ever jump today.

    Posted by: Stephen Snipes | Oct 15, 2012 1:36:30 AM

  20. Pretty awesome. It was nerve-racking to watch him go through the final preparations step by step before he jumped. Really motivating to watch too! I ended up getting a lot accomplished today afterwards.

    Posted by: Cinesnatch | Oct 15, 2012 1:59:56 AM

  21. As a response to Roy's comment about it being a "stupid" stunt, check out http://www.ibtimes.com/baumgartners-suit-might-have-right-stuff-help-astronauts-844383 - it may lead to improved spacesuit designs and escape procedures for some (but obviously not all) malfunctions during launch or reentry.

    Posted by: Bill | Oct 15, 2012 3:11:07 AM

  22. Well, pretty awesome, to say the least. You'd have to put a gun to my head to make me jump, but whatever...he got his thrill! :)

    Posted by: millerbeach | Oct 15, 2012 3:15:46 AM

  23. The speed of sound varies by temperature, which varies by altitude, but it's highest near the ground.


    Posted by: anon | Oct 15, 2012 11:08:08 AM

  24. Regarding, "The speed of sound varies by temperature, which varies by altitude, but it's highest near the ground." ... not exactly true but OK for the altitude range for the jump.

    http://www.weather-climate.org.uk/02.php has a graph of temperature versus altitude and an explanation of why it varies. At the start of Baumgartner's jump at an altitude of over 30 km, temperatures dropped as he descended, reaching a minimum value at altitudes between 10 and 20 km. Below 10 km, temperatures decrease relatively quickly with increasing altitude. Temperatures increase with altitude in the stratosphere because of the absorption of UV radiation in the "ozone layer".

    Above the stratosphere, temperates drop with altitude for a while, but then increase to very high values (over 1000 degrees C) but at extremely low densities.

    Curiously, the first person to technically travel at supersonic speeds after stepping outside a vehicle of some sort was not Baumgartner. It was Alexey Leonov, who did the first "space walk". Low earth orbit is still inside the earth's atmosphere (but where air density is extremely low) and Leonov was traveling at well above the speed of sound there.

    Posted by: Bill | Oct 15, 2012 7:55:33 PM

  25. Amazing. This guy is really tough and fearless to have reached such a feat. Anything could have gone wrong but he had faith in what he was doing and eventually did it. You got everybody's respect.

    Posted by: Mercia Beckett | Oct 16, 2012 3:03:18 AM

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