Baumgartner breaks speed of sound in freefall

Felix Baumgartner successfully completed his record-breaking jump from the edge of space yesterday, becoming the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall.

Despite concerns over the power for his visor heater, which impaired his vision and nearly jeopardized the mission, Baumgartner hit a record speed of around 1,342.8 km/h after jumping from a height of 128,100 feet.

The jump had been postponed more than once because of concerns over the weather, but finally went ahead yesterday morning.

“It was an incredible up and down today, just like it’s been with the whole project,” says Baumgartner. “First we got off with a beautiful launch and then we had a bit of drama with a power supply issue to my visor. The exit was perfect, but then I started spinning slowly. I thought I’d just spin a few times and that would be that, but then I started to speed up.”

While the records have yet to be certified, he’s believed to have broken two others: highest freefall and highest manned balloon flight. His freefall lasted four minutes and 20 seconds.

At one point during his freefall, Baumgartner started to spin rapidly, but regained control before opening his parachute.

“It was really brutal at times. I thought for a few seconds that I’d lose consciousness,” he says. “I didn’t feel a sonic boom because I was so busy just trying to stabilize myself. We’ll have to wait and see if we really broke the sound barrier. It was really a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.”

There’s a series of video clips, here.