The Austrian daredevil, in fact, rose to the edge of space Sunday -- 128,100 feet, or 24 miles, above the Earth -- before plunging faster than the speed of sound.Minutes later, he landed in southeastern New Mexico and, dropping to his knees, pumped his fists to the sky."He made it -- tears of joy from Mission Control," his support team said.
Dubbed "Fearless Felix," the helicopter pilot and former soldier had parachuted from such landmarks as the Petronas Towers in Malaysia and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. And he'd been preparing for his latest feat for five years -- physically, mentally and logistically.By most accounts, all the hard work paid off. According to preliminary findings cited by Brian Utley, an official observer monitoring the mission, the 43-year-old Baumgartner flew higher than anyone ever in a helium hot air balloon and broke the record for the highest jump.Still, even Baumgartner seemed taken aback when Utley detailed how fast he had fallen at one point -- 833.9 mph, or Mach 1.24, smashing his goal to break the sound barrier.
And yes. The guy floated up in a manned balloon capsule. He depressurized it, opened up the door, and stepped out into space. I watched this live, along with millions of others worldwide, and it was utterly incredible.
Give it a watch.