By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times –
LOS ANGELES — Felix Baumgartner leaped from a capsule dangling more than 120,000 feet above the Earth and safely landed in New Mexico, breaking a 52-year-old record.
Once Baumgartner, 43, jumped from the capsule, he was expected to become supersonic within 35 seconds. The data have not yet come back to determine whether this occurred.
After free-falling for more than four minutes, he deployed his parachute. About 15 minutes later, Baumgartner reached the ground.
It is an endeavor, five years in the making, to break a free-fall world record of 102,800 feet, or 19 miles, set by Air Force test pilot Joe Kittinger in 1960.
The jump by Baumgartner was designed to test the threshold of his equipment and find out what it shows about the limits and capabilities of the human body bailing out from aircraft at ultra-high altitudes.
The event, called Red Bull Stratos, was webcast on the event website. The mission involved two-dozen cameras, including a helmet cam, to catch the action.
Mission officials gave Baumgartner the go-ahead despite an issue with the heat in his visor faceplate. Baumgartner said he couldn’t feel warmth on his face.
Wearing a newly designed suit and helmet, Baumgartner was carried skyward inside a pressurized capsule suspended from the largest balloon ever used in a manned flight. Most of the equipment involved was built by Sage Cheshire Inc., a small aerospace firm in Lancaster, Calif..