Skydiver breaks sound barrier

ROSWELL, New Mexico — An Austrian daredevil leapt into the stratosphere from a balloon near the edge of space 24 miles above Earth yesterday and safely landed, setting a record for the highest skydive and breaking the sound barrier in the process.

Cheers broke out as Felix Baumgartner, 43, jumped from a skateboard-sized shelf outside the 3.3-by-2.4 metre fiberglass and acrylic capsule that was carried higher than 128,000 feet by an enormous balloon.

Eight million watch feat

Felix Baumgartner leaps from his balloon some 24 miles above the Earth for a record-breaking dive.

“We love you Felix!” screamed the crowd gathered in a mission control setting at his launch site in Roswell, New Mexico as more than 8 million people watched his feat online.

Baumgartner’s body pierced the atmosphere at 833.9 miles per hour, according to preliminary numbers released by Brian Utley, the certification official for the Federation Aeronautic International, at a press conference afterward.

Baumgartner’s speed clinched one of his goals: to become the first skydiver to break the sound barrier, typically measured at more than 690 mph. And he did so on the 65th anniversary of legendary American pilot Chuck Yeager’s flight shattering the sound barrier on October 14, 1947.

Utley said preliminary figures indicate Baumgartner broke a total of three established world records, including the highest altitude skydive, longest freefall without a parachute and fastest fall achieved during a skydive. (Reuters)

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