Skydiver “Fearless Felix” Baumgartner made his second stratospheric leap Wednesday, this time from more than 18 miles (29 kilometers) above the Earth —nearly three times higher than cruising jetliners. The Austrian landed safely near Roswell, New Mexico, according to a project spokeswoman. His top speed was an estimated 536 mph (862 kph), said Brian Utley, an official observer on site. It’s a personal best for Baumgartner, who is aiming for a record-breaking jump from 23 miles (37 kilometers) in another month. He hopes to go supersonic, breaking the speed of sound with just his body.
“It has always been a dream of mine,” Baumgartner said in a statement following Wednesday’s feat. “Only one more step to go.”
Longtime record-holder Joe Kittinger jumped from 19.5 miles (31 kilometers) in 1960 for the Air Force. The 84-year-old Kittinger monitored Wednesday’s jump. The 43-year-old Baumgartner ascended alone in an enclosed capsule lifted by a giant helium balloon. He wore a full-pressure suit equipped with parachutes and an oxygen supply. There’s virtually no atmosphere that far up.
“It felt completely different at 90,000 feet (27,400 meters),” Baumgartner noted. “There is no control when you exit the capsule. There is no way to get stable.”
He was in free fall for an estimated three minutes and 48 seconds before opening his parachutes. Via Parachutist makes second stratospheric leap.