Felix Baumgartner opened a capsule door and stood at the edge of Space, some 24 miles above the New Mexico desert, leaping forward and dropping at the speed of sound.
“It’s like swimming without touching the water, and it’s hard because every time it turns you around you have to figure out what to do. So I was sticking my arm out then it became worse,” Baumgartner said. “I had a lot of pressure in my head. But I didn’t feel like I was passing out. I was still feeling ok, I — I thought, ‘I can handle the situation.’ And I did.”
Baumgartner, whose Sunday freefall was watched around the world, was at one point traveling at 833 mph or Mach 1.24, and he shattered the speed of sound during his 4 minute 20 second freefall. He is the only human to do so without the aid of a supersonic jet or space shuttle.
Dangling from a 55-story balloon with a capsule beneath, which took two and a half hours to reach the edge of space, the skydiver and B.A.S.E. jumper leapt after getting the okay from the only voice he heard during his ascent – that of 84-year-old Joe Kittinger, a former air force pilot who in 1960 set the record for longest skydive.
“There it is the world is out there,” Kittinger said to Felix as he looked down at Earth below. “Our guardian angel will take care of you.”
Baumgartner, 43, then disconnected himself from the capsule, put his hands on the capsule’s railing — and then took the leap. He began his fall from 24 miles above — four times higher than most passenger jets fly.
During the fee fall, Baumgartner was plummeting so fast he was barely a speck on the infrared camera tracking him. For 35 seconds of the fall, he was spinning out of control — something his team feared could cause him to lose consciousness.