UPDATE: Head Cam shot of leap at the bottom of the post.
I watched this feat live and it was seriously nerve wracking, particularly when not long after he left his capsule, he entered into a spin during his freefall, something clearly shown in the video that follows. For a moment I thought I was watching a man die. If you've not seen it, watch what follows:
With a short salute and a small step forward, Felix Baumgartner leapt from a capsule perched more than 24 miles above a barren New Mexico desert and landed safely, setting a world record for the highest sky dive.
"Sometimes you have to go up really high to understand how small you are," Baumgartner said before stepping off a small ledge on the outside of a capsule lifted into the stratosphere by a helium-filled balloon. "I'm going home now."
Baumgartner, 43, hit speeds of nearly 834 mph, becoming the first free-falling human to crack the sound barrier. He also set a record for the highest altitude manned balloon flight at 128,097 feet above the Earth — about a mile higher than expected.
There were a couple of dicey moments.
While Baumgartner was ascending, he told mission control about a "serious" issue with the heat in his visor faceplate. He couldn't feel warmth on his face, and the visor was fogging up. But officials gave Baumgartner the go-ahead for the jump.
He popped open the capsule door and sunlight streamed in. It was a sight that Baumgartner had not seen in the 21/2 half hours he spent alone climbing toward aerospace history.
Not long after he stepped into the stratosphere, Baumgartner began wildly spinning as he descended at high speeds. Officials had feared a so-called "flat spin" — a horizontal spin that can lead to a loss of consciousness.
The spinning was apparent even in a live video shot taken by a long-range camera. But Baumgartner righted himself.
"We were glad he was able to get it under control," said Art Thompson, technical project director for the mission. "He went into a tumble."
More at the link.
An incredible feat.
UPDATE: Head cam video... stunning:
“In that situation, when you spin around, it's like hell and you don't know if you can get out of that spin or not,” he said. ''The exit was perfect but then I started spinning slowly. I thought I’d just spin a few times and that would be that, but then I started to speed up.”
According to Baumgartner, the footage shows an error he made during the jump when he began to tumble over after failing to get into a delta position.
“It felt like a flat spin,” he said. “I had a lot of pressure in my head, but I felt I could regain control so we could go after the sound barrier."
“It was really brutal at times. I thought for a few seconds that I’d lose consciousness.”
Baumgartner, however, made the jump happen successfully and managed to control the spin for a steady descent to Earth, as he broke the sound barrier.
"There was a time I really thought I was in trouble. I had to decide to fight all the way down and I finally got stable. That spin became so violent it was hard to know how to get out of it. I was able to get it under control and break the speed of sound. I could feel myself break the speed of sound. I could feel the air building up and then I hit it."