65 years ago, pilot Chuck Yeager proved to the world that man could indeed break the speed of sound when he piloted the experimental X-1 aircraft and traveled Mach 1. Now, 43-year old Australian skydiver Felix Baumgartner proved once again that records are meant to be broken as he completed a free fall jump from over 128,000 feet above the Earth on October 14, 2012. Originally slated on October 9th, the Red Bull-sponsored jump was postponed due to bad weather conditions until October 14, 2012.
Felix Baumgartner ascended to 128,000 feet above the Earth in a helium-filled stratospheric balloon and a full-pressure suit, Felix made a free fall jump towards Earth at supersonic speeds before parachuting safely to the ground.
The Red Bull Stratos team comprised some of the world’s leading minds in aerospace medicine, engineering, pressure suit development, capsule creation and balloon fabrication. It included retired United States Air Force Colonel Joseph Kittinger, who held three of the records Felix Baumgartner aimed to break. Joseph Kittinger did his jump in 1960 from a height of 102,800 feet.
Preliminary figures by the Stratos team estimate that Felix reached 1,342.8km/h (833.9mph or Mach 1.24). These figures make Felix Baumgartner the first man to break the speed of sound without a vehicle. The four records that the Red Bull Stratos jump aimed to break were for the Highest Manned Balloon Flight (34,668m, by Prather/Ross), Freefall from Highest Altitude (31,332m, by Kittinger), Supersonic Speed in Freefall (Mach 0.9, 614mph, by Kittinger), and the Longest Freefall Time (4m36s, by Kittinger).