Felix Baumgartner’s skydiving world record has been defeated by Google executive Alan Eustace. The well-known computer scientists jumped from near the top of the stratosphere on Friday.
Eustace’s jump lasted just over 15 minutes as he released himself from more than 25 miles in the sky. He broke the sound barrier as he fell at a rate of 1,600 feet per minute.
The 57-year-old was lifted into the stratosphere with the help of 35,000 cubic feet of helium. He took off from an abandoned runway while attached to a specially designed spacesuit that featured a state-of-the-art life-support system.
After the record shattering skydive Eustace said, “It was amazing. It was beautiful. You could see the darkness of space and you could see the layers of atmosphere, which I had never seen before.”
To release himself from the balloon, Eustace activated a small explosive device that sent him plummeting toward earth at speeds up to 822 miles per hour. His decent was so quick that bystanders on the ground could hear a small sonic boom.
Alan Eustace added, “It was a wild, wild ride. I hugged on to the equipment module and tucked my legs and I held my heading.”
To keep him safe the computer programmers team created a carbon-fiber attachment that kept him from becoming entangled in the main parachute before it opened. Approximately four-and-a-half minutes into his flight, he opened the main parachute and eventually landed 70 miles from the launch site.
While his initial altitude was first reported at 135,908 feet, his final jump numbers were submitted to the World Air Sports Federation at 135,890 feet.
Felix Baumgartner set the previous world record skydive at 128,100 feet on October 14, 2012.
While Mr. Baumgartner secured the use of a high-end ascent capsule and millions of dollars in sponsorship money, including the backing of Red Bull, Alan Eustace planned his jump in private and worked with a small group of technologists on the project for three years.
The jump was captured on a modest GoPro camera and Eustace was connected to ground-control with an off-the-shelf radio.
When he’s not busy jumping from the stratosphere Alan Eustace can be found piloting his Cessna twin-engine jet or putting his Silicon Valley programming skills to work.