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Felix Baumgartner completes free fall from the edge of space, breaks sound barrier

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Baumgartner jump
Baumgartner jump

Moments ago skydiver Felix Baumgartner successfully completed a jump from over 128,000 feet above the Earth, a feat which immediately broke numerous world records and etched his name into the history books. After a postponed launch and some last-minute concerns during ascent, Baumgartner left his capsule and stood on a step no larger than a skateboard. Then he jumped.

The accomplishment shatters a number of long-standing world records. Before today, Joseph Kittinger held the honor of highest parachute jump; his 1960 Project Excelsior excursion saw him fall from 102,800 feet in 1960. Baumgartner and his team also surpassed the previous high mark for manned balloon flight which had previously stood at 113,740 feet.

Like SpaceX before it, today's Red Bull-sponsored space jump spectacle — streamed online and broadcasted on the Discovery Channel - is the latest milestone of a new era of commercialized spaceflight.

Update: In a press conference following the historic jump, Baumgartner's team reported preliminary results. While the flight records still need to be sent to Austria for official confirmation, the team estimates that Baumgartner achieved Mach 1.24, more than 833 miles per hour, making him the first human being to go beyond the speed of sound without a vehicle.