In a giant leap from more than 24 miles up, a daredevil skydiver shattered the sound barrier today while making the highest jump ever—a tumbling, death-defying plunge from a balloon to a safe landing in the New Mexico desert. Felix Baumgartner hit Mach 1.24, or 833.9 mph, according to preliminary data, and became the first man to reach supersonic speed without traveling in a jet or a spacecraft after hopping out of a capsule that had reached an altitude of 128,100 feet above the Earth.
Landing on his feet in the desert, the man known as "Fearless Felix" lifted his arms in victory to the cheers of jubilant onlookers and friends. "When I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble, you do not think about breaking records anymore, you do not think about gaining scientific data," he said after the jump. "The only thing you want is to come back alive." Baumgartner's descent lasted for just over nine minutes, about half of it in a free fall of 119,846 feet.