In 2012, Felix Baumgartner gained huge popularity when he jumped 39,000 meters to break a 52 year old skydiving record. The original record was set by US Air Force colonel Joseph Kittinger in 1960. He jumped from a balloon at 31,300m. Now, Google executive, Alan Eustace has smashed that figure with his own jump on Saturday.
Eustace exceeded the speed of sound by reaching more than 1,300 km/h. He was carried by a large helium balloon from New Mexico to over 40km above the Earth. The 57 year old jumped out in a specially designed space suit. After three years of preparations, he ascended 41,419 meters before freefalling for four and a half minutes. He returned to Earth 15 minutes after starting his fall and said “It was amazing, You could see the darkness of space and you could see the layers of atmosphere, which i had never seen before.” He cut himself loose from the balloon with a small explosive device. Eustace broke several records, including national record for highest exit altitude, world and national record for free fall under a drogue chute, and national record for vertical speed.
The technology that has gone into developing the balloon, the spacesuit and the other systems that were used in the launch will be used to advance commercial spaceflight, namely Arizona based World View Enterprises to take paying tourists up in a high altitude balloon and luxury capsule starting in late 2016.