Baumgartner Skydive Was Faster Than Thought

Baumgartner Skydive Was Faster Than Thought

Record-breaking supersonic skydiver Felix Baumgartner went even faster than first thought when he spectacularly plunged to Earth from the edge of space.

The Austrian parachutist known as Fearless Felix reached a speed 843.6mph (1,357kph) - equivalent to Mach 1.25, or 1.25 times the speed of sound, official figures have shown.

After last October's jump, his top speed initially was estimated at 834mph (1,342kph), or Mach 1.24.

Wearing a pressurised suit and jumping from a capsule hoisted by a giant helium balloon over New Mexico, he became the first human to break the sound barrier with only his body.

However, despite travelling faster than original estimates, his jump was not as high as first believed.

It turns out that the leap was from an altitude of 127,852ft (38,969 metres), which is 248ft (75 metres) lower than was stated last year.

"He jumped from a little bit lower, but he actually went a little bit faster, which was pretty exciting," said Art Thompson, technical project director for the Red Bull-sponsored project.

"It's fun for us to see reaching Mach speeds and proving out a lot of the safety systems."

Baumgartner shattered the previous record for a freefall plunge, made by Joe Kittinger, an Air Force officer, in 1960.

Kittinger did not quite reach supersonic speed during his jump from 19.5 miles (31 kilometres) up.

Baumgartner was supersonic for half a minute - which was "quite remarkable," according to Brian Utley, the record-keeping official who was present for the October 14 feat.

His heart rate remained below 185 beats a minute, and his breathing was fairly steady.

Baumgartner himself said he never imagined how many people would share in his dream to make a supersonic free fall from so high.

Some 52 million people watched YouTube's live stream of the exploit.

The scientific and engineering experts who helped bring him back alive "broke boundaries in their own fields just as surely as I broke the sound barrier", Baumgartner wrote.

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