Update 10:20 am PT: Baumgartner is officially higher than the world record jump. Nearly 4.3 million people watching live now.
He has made it safely to the ground!
A man fell from space to Earth today, breaking world record, and potentially the speed of sound.
His name is Felix Baumgartner and he, supported financially by sponsor Red Bull, is currently sitting in a climate-controlled capsule attached to a balloon nearly in space. Baumgartner hopes to jump today from 120,000 feet — outside the stratosphere — and is in transit via a large balloon (is anyone imagining the flying-house scene from ‘Up’?).
The balloon took off today from Roswell, New Mexico, a fitting location given the region’s affinity for all things alien. The pod is climbing at a rate of roughly 25 miles per hour, in weather 91 degrees below Fahrenheit.
At the writing of this post, he is currently still in the “pod,” which has hit 53,000 feet. He has a team of engineers, medical staff, and even a skydiving consultant on the ground, walking him through the decent. His team also includes the previous record holder, United States Airforce Colonel Joseph Kittinger, who jumped from 102,800 feet in the 1960s.
While he rises into the sky, the team will run through practice tests of procedures Baumgartner must complete before he can depressurize the cabin and depart back to earth.
Along with a space suit covered in Red Bull branding, naturally, Baumgartner will also have a specially crafted parachute, stocked with two bottles of oxygen so he can breath at the high altitudes. The team website notes that Baumgartner could start spinning out of control during his decent, and will need to use the parachute to hold him steady.
More details to come as he makes his free fall.
Images via Red Bull Stratos