Alan Eustace — Senior Vice President of Knowledge at Google and one of the search giant’s most senior executives — has broken Felix Baumgartner’s world record for the highest parachute jump in history. The skydive was part of a project by the Paragon Space Development Corporation for the exploration of the stratosphere above 100,000 feet.
On Friday morning, Eustace was lifted by a large balloon filled with 35,000 cubic feet of helium from an abandoned runway at an airport in New Mexico to 135,890 feet (or more than 25 miles) above the Earth. The well-known computer scientist then jumped out of the balloon in his specially-designed space suit and fell faster than the speed of sound to brake Baumgartner’s world altitude record of 128,100 feet, set just two years ago.
The 57-year-old was back to Earth just 15 minutes after starting his fall. He told the New York Times:
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. It was a wild, wild ride. I hugged on to the equipment module and tucked my legs and I held my heading.
During his fall, Eustace also broke the world records for vertical speed, reached with a peak velocity of 822 mph, and total free fall distance of 123,414 feet — traveled in four minutes and 27 seconds. (Scroll down for the video.)
1. Alan Eustace, 57, a senior vice president at Google, during his record breaking leap from 135,000 feet.
2. Eustace (inside suit) jumped in this special spacesuit which was suspended under a giant balloon.
3. Eustace taking off suspended under the balloon at dawn.
4. The team decided against using a capsule, simply suspending the suit under a balloon instead.
5. Eustace leaped from 135,000 feet.
6. The balloon was filled with helium, and had an 11M cubic feet capacity. It started at just 30,000 cubic feet, but as air pressure decreases will expand to 275 ft across. It was controlled by a ballast and a vent to manage the ascent.
7. The team with the spacesuit, and Eustace inside.
And here is the video:
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