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New Mexico: Skydiver breaks speed of sound in 24-mile leap to Earth

  • In this photo provided by Red Bull, pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria is seen in a screen at mission control center in the capsule during the final manned flight for Red Bull Stratos in Roswell, N.M. on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012. Baumgartner plans to jump from an altitude of 120,000 feet, an altitude chosen to enable him to achieve Mach 1 in free fall, which would deliver scientific data to the aerospace community about human survival from high altitudes.(AP Photo/Red Bull, Stefan Aufschnaiter)

ROSWELL, N.M. — In a giant leap from more than 24 miles up, a daredevil skydiver shattered the sound barrier Sunday while making the highest jump ever — a tumbling, death-defying plunge from a balloon to a safe landing in the New Mexico desert.

Felix Baumgartner hit Mach 1.24, or 833.9 mph, according to preliminary data, and became the first man to reach supersonic speed without traveling in a jet or a spacecraft after hopping out of a capsule that had reached an altitude of 128,100 feet above the Earth.

Landing on his feet in the desert, the man known as "Fearless Felix" lifted his arms in victory to the cheers of jubilant onlookers and friends.

"When I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble, you do not think about breaking records anymore, you do not think about gaining scientific data," he said after the jump. "The only thing you want is to come back alive."

A worldwide audience watched live on the Internet via cameras mounted on his capsule as Baumgartner, wearing a pressurized suit, stood in the doorway of his capsule, gave a thumbs-up and leapt into the stratosphere.


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