Extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner dropped to Earth from more than 24.5 miles in the air in a historic fall from the edge of space in his attempt to become the world’s first supersonic skydiver.
Baumgartner stepped out of a capsule pulled by a 55-story helium balloon after it had reached the height of 127,718 feet.
As he softly landed on Earth with the help of a parachute about five minutes later, Baumgartner raised his hands in victory.
Baumgartner was expected to hit a speed of 690 mph before activating his parachute about 5,000 above the ground in southeastern New Mexico.
Before sunrise the former Austrian paratrooper’s crew began unpacking the 30 million cubic foot helium balloon to hoist the capsule that will carry him 23 miles up in the sky.
The three hour ascent began Sunday at about 9:30am MDT. The jump was postponed due to wind Monday, then aborted twice more for the same reason on Tuesady and Thursday. Meteorologists say conditions will finally be favorable for the jump Sunday morning.
The balloon is so delicate that it can take off only if winds on the ground are 2 mph or less.
Checking through an equipment list from his seat in the pressurized capsule, Baumgartner, 43, expressed concern that his astronaut-like helmet was not heating properly.
‘This is very serious, Joe,’ said Baumgartner as the capsule, designed to remain at 55 degrees Fahrenheit ascended in skies where temperatures were expected to plunge below -91.8 F (-67.8 C), according to the project’s website. ‘Sometimes it’s getting foggy when I exhale. … I do not feel heat.’
Baumgartner was disappointed ‘like the rest of us’ but taking a couple of days of critical downtime, his high-performance athletic trainer, Andy Walshe, said Wednesday.
Team meteorologist Don Day noted during a media briefing at the Roswell launch site that weather delays are common in stratospheric ballooning.