Just a little over two years ago, Felix Baumgartner captured the world’s attention when he rode a helium-filled balloon up into the stratosphere and jumped off — plummeting more than 24 miles back down to Earth. He set a handful of different records in the process, including the altitude record for a manned balloon flight, parachute jump from the highest altitude, and greatest free fall velocity. But now, all those records belong to another man: 57-year old senior vice president at Google, Alan Eustace.
For the most part, the stunt was just like Baumgartner’s jump; it just went a little bit higher. Early Friday morning, Eustace began his ascent by hitching a ride on a balloon filled iwth 35,000 cubic feet of helium. Over the course of two hours, the balloon rose at at speeds of up to 1,600 feet per minute, eventually reaching an altitude of about 135,890 feet (25.7 miles).
At this point, Mr. Eustace cut himself loose from the tether with the help of a small explosive device, sending him into a freefall that lasted more than 15 minutes. During his descent, he reached a top speed of 822 miles per hour, breaking the sound barrier and setting off a sonic boom in the process.
“It was amazing,” Eustace told the New York Times. “It was beautiful. You could see the darkness of space and you could see the layers of atmosphere, which I had never seen before.”
[Images via Shutterstock]