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Nation/World

October 15, 2012

Skydiver lands smoothly after daring 24-mile leap

(Continued)

As he exited his capsule from high above Earth, he flashed a thumbs-up sign, well aware that the feat was being shown on a live stream on the Internet.

During the ensuing jump — from more than three times the height of the average cruising altitude for jetliners — Baumgartner was expected to hit a speed of 690 mph. He was believed to have reached speeds that exceeded 700 mph.

Any contact with the capsule on his exit could have torn his pressurized suit, a rip that could expose him to a lack of oxygen and temperatures as low as minus-70 degrees. That could have caused lethal bubbles to form in his bodily fluids.

But none of that happened. He activated his parachute as he neared Earth, gently gliding into the desert east of Roswell and landing without any apparent difficulty. The images triggered another loud cheer from onlookers at mission control, among them his mother, Eva Baumgartner, who was overcome with emotion, crying.

He then was taken by helicopter to meet fellow members of his team, whom he hugged in celebration.

Coincidentally, Baumgartner’s attempted feat also marked the 65th anniversary of U.S. test pilot Chuck Yeager successful attempt to become the first man to officially break the sound barrier aboard an airplane.

At Baumgartner’s insistence, some 30 cameras recorded the event yesterday. Shortly after launch, screens at mission control showed the capsule as it began rising high above the New Mexico desert, with cheers erupting from organizers. Baumgartner could be seen on video, calmly checking instruments inside the capsule.

Baumgartner’s team included Joe Kittinger, who first attempted to break the sound barrier from 19.5 miles up in 1960, reaching speeds of 614 mph. With Kittinger inside mission control yesterday, the two men could be heard going over technical details during the ascension.

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