Published March 15, 2012
The plunge from 71,581 feet was a success. Next up: 120,000 feet.
Daredevil adventurer Felix Baumgartner's plans to plunge 23 miles from the edge of space back to Earth -- a Red Bull-sponsored stunt that would be the world's highest freefall -- and on Thursday, his team announced the completion of a key test flight over Roswell, N.M.
"The height of Felix's test flight was significant, as it was the first time he passed the Armstrong Line of approximately 63,000 feet, where the atmospheric pressure truly tests Felix's custom-made space suit," his team said in a news release.
It may not have reached the level of a space plunge, but what a fall it was. Baumgartner is said to have reached about 365 mph and fell for three minutes and 43 seconds before he opened his parachute at 7,890 feet.
Perviously, Baumgartner's highest freefall was from a paltry 30,000 feet.
The launch window for the 120,000 jump starts in July in New Mexico, Baumgartner told FoxNews.com last month.
With air temperatures of -70 F degrees, his very blood would boil if exposed to the air. So what could compel a man to make such a dangerous attempt?
"I like the challenge," Baumgartner said. "I have a passion for aviation, and I love working on things that start from scratch," he explained.
To do it at all required a custom supersonic spacesuit, designed by the David Clark Company, which made the first such pressurized suits to protect World War II fighters during high-speed maneuvers.
In the process of his leap, Baumgartner hopes to become the first parachutist to break the sound barrier, plummeting toward the ground at 760 miles per hour.