Daredevil Dives from Edge of Space [VIDEO]
Austrian stuntman Peter Baumgartner jumped out of a balloon at the edge of Earth’s atmosphere yesrterday, free-falling more than 24 miles before landing safely in the New Mexico desert.
In the process, he became the first human to break the sound barrier without an airplane, rocket, or other device. He also broke a more-than-50 year old record for highest sky dive, passing Joe Kittinger‘s 19.5 mile leap in 1960 [Kittinger was a key member of the Baumgartner team, talking him through the ascent and fall. (Baumgartner rose into the sky in a specially-designed capsule, suspended from a gigantic balloon similar to the one pictured above, taken during a test run for the stunt) The stunt also broke the record for highest balloon flight, on the way up.
Here's how CBS.com reported the feat:
The record-setting jump came on the 65th anniversary of Chuck Yeager‘s first official smashing of the sound barrier, in the locally-built Bell X-1 airplane [Yeager celebrated by riding in a jet that broke the sound barrier in California].
The feat did have some real-world purposes. For instance, Baumgartner wore an experimental, thin-fabric suit during his stunt. NASA is hoping to use data from the suit to improve spacesuits for future manned missions.