Published February 04, 2013
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Supersonic skydiver Felix Baumgartner was faster than he or anyone else thought when he jumped from 24 miles up.
According to the official numbers released Monday, the Austrian parachutist known as "Fearless Felix" reached 843.6 mph. That's equivalent to Mach 1.25, or 1.25 times the speed of sound.
Brian Utley, a jump observer from the International Federation of Sports Aviation, said last October that preliminary figures showed Baumgartner reaching a maximum speed of 833.9 mph. That amounts to Mach 1.24, which is faster than the speed of sound. No one has ever reached that speed wearing only a high-tech suit.
Either way, he became the first human to break the sound barrier with only his body.
Baumgartner was supersonic for a half-minute during the jump over New Mexico. His heart rate remained below 185 beats a minute, and his breathing was fairly steady.
The leap was from an altitude of 127,852 feet. That's 248 feet lower than estimates.
The jump was sponsored by Red Bull.
Baumgartner came down safely in the eastern New Mexico desert about nine minutes after jumping from his capsule miles above Earth. He lifted his arms in victory, sending off loud cheers from jubilant onlookers and friends inside the mission's control center in Roswell, N.M.
"When I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble, you do not think about of breaking records anymore, you do not think of about gaining scientific data. The only thing you want is to come back alive," he said after the jump.
Baumgartner says that traveling faster than sound is "hard to describe because you don't feel it." With no reference points, "you don't know how fast you travel," he told reporters.
"Sometimes we have to get really high to see how small we are," he said.
The altitude he leapt from also marked the highest-ever for a skydiver.