Watch Skydiver Jump from the Edge of Space

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History was made yesterday as Austrian adventurer Felix Baumgartner jumped from a greater height and reached faster speeds than any other human ever has before. In a specially made helium balloon he rose to a height of 39km, on the edge of space, before jumping off.

The stunt was the culmination of seven years work and had already been put off several times in the past week after adverse weather conditions. Even when Baumgartner finally did get the chance to get off the ground the mission didn't go completely smoothly.

As the balloon made its slow ascent higher and higher above New Mexico the tension was palpable. Finally, after over two hours and at 128,100 foot above sea level, it reached its peak and Baumgartner was led through a number of pre-jump checks. It was only then that he discovered that a heater in his helmet wasn't working and his visor kept steaming up. Despite emphasising "this is very serious" over his radio, the team as a whole decided to continue with the jump.

Leap of Faith

After an agonizing wait, it was finally time for him to step out of his tiny capsule and into thin air. Afterwards, Baumgartner described that moment:

"Let me tell you - when I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble. You don't think about breaking records anymore, you don't think about gaining scientific data - the only thing that you want is to come back alive."

However, almost immediately after leaving his capsule, he looked to be in trouble. Rather than falling head first in a straight body position, he was instead tumbling over and over as he struggled with the extreme speed and thin air to control his dive. Fortunately, he was able to rely on his mass of experience and right himself about a minute into the dive free falling for a further three minutes before opening his parachute a few thousand feet above the ground.

The video below was taken from a camera on his suit and shows quite how much he was rotating in the air.

World Records Smashed

By the time he had landed, he had broken the world records for highest manned balloon and highest ever free fall. However, most amazingly, he became the first skydiver to ever break the speed of sound, reaching a maximum speed of 833mph (1,342km/h).

One record he wasn't able to break was the longest ever freefall time, falling just 10 seconds short of the record 4 minutes 30 seconds. The man who still holds that record is retired US Air Force Colonel Joe Kittinger, who was also the man leading Baumgartner via radio during his descent.

Watched By Millions

As well as setting scientific world records, the stunt set new records online. It whole event was shown live (with a 20 second delay) on YouTube and the figures watching steadily grew and grew as the moment Baumgartner jumped grew nearer and nearer. By the time he was sat on the edge of his capsule, 7.3 million people around the world were watching online, and more than 40 television networks in 50 countries were showing the live feed.

After he landed, sponsor Red Bull posted a picture of Baumgartner on Facebook, which accumulated 216,000 likes, 29,000 shares and more than 10,000 comments in just 40 minutes. Similarly, during the jump, half the worldwide trending topics on Twitter were related to Baumgartner and the event.

You'll be able to find out much more about this stunning event on a BBC/National Geographic documentary which is currently being made and will be aired in November.

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