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Austrian skydiver breaks record with 39-km jump

Posted on Oct 15, 10:15AM | IANS

Austrian Felix Baumgartner has broken the record for the highest ever skydive by jumping out of a balloon 128,000 feet (39 km) above New Mexico, the BBC reported Monday.

The 43-year-old was hoping also to break the sound barrier during his descent - although that mark awaits confirmation.

Video cameras relayed the moment Baumgartner stepped from his balloon capsule to begin his fall to Earth.

It took just under 10 minutes for him to reach the desert surface below.

Only the last few thousand feet were negotiated by parachute. Once down, he fell to his knees and raised his fists in triumph. Helicopter recovery teams were on hand moments later, according to the BBC.

None of the new marks set by Baumgartner can be classed as "official" until endorsed by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI).

Its representative was the first to greet the skydiver on the ground. GPS data recorded on to a microcard in the Austrian's chest pack will form the basis for any height and speed claims that are made.

The researchers on the Red Bull Stratos project say it has already provided invaluable data for the development of high-performance, high-altitude parachute systems, the BBC said.

And that the lessons learned will inform the development of new ideas for emergency evacuation from vehicles, such as spacecraft, passing through the stratosphere.