Google executive Alan Eustace has broken the world skydiving record – set by Felix Baumgartner two years ago – with a jump from 135,890ft.
Eustace, 57, hit a top speed of 822mph during a four and half minute freefall, and landed seventy miles from his departure point of Roswell, New Mexico. Unlike Austrian Baumgartner, who skydived from 128,100ft in October 2012, he forwent the use of a capsule in favour of a specially designed spacesuit.
After nearly three years of preparation, Eustace began his ascent via a high-altitude, helium-filled balloon at sunrise on 24 October. It took more than two hours to hit an altitude of 135,890 feet (41,419 metres). At this point an explosive squib allowed him to separate himself from the balloon and start plummeting back to Earth.
The supersonic jump was part of a project by Paragon Space Development Corp and its Stratospheric Explorer team, which has been working secretly for years to develop a self-contained commercial spacesuit that would allow people to explore some 20 miles above the Earth’s surface. The technology that has gone into developing the balloon, the spacesuit and the other systems that were used in the launch will be used to advance commercial spaceflight.