Baumgartner: I Just Wanted to Make It Home
Out of control spin caused scary moment at start of jump
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2012 7:57 AM CDT
This image made from video, provided by Red Bull Stratos shows pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria as he jumps out of the capsule during the final manned flight for Red Bull Stratos on Sunday, Oct. 14,...   (AP Photo/Red Bull Stratos)

(Newser) – Jumping to Earth from 24 miles up—a feat that secured him a place in the annals of history as the first human to break the sound barrier on his own—"was harder than I expected," said Felix Baumgartner after yesterday's record-breaking skydive. Early in the jump, he started spinning out of control—a problem that also almost killed the last altitude and speed record-holder Joe Kittinger 50 years ago—but Baumgartner was able to stabilize when the air got thicker, and the rest of his jump went smoothly, including the landing in the New Mexico desert. "At a certain RPM, there’s only one way for blood to leave your body, and that’s through your eyeballs," Baumgartner explained after the jump. "That means you’re dead. That was what we feared most."

"Trust me, when you stand up there on top of the world, you become so humble," he continued. "It’s not about breaking records anymore. It’s not about getting scientific data. It’s all about coming home." Kittinger himself guided Baumgartner from mission control, the New York Times notes. "He demonstrated that a man could survive in an extremely high altitude escape situation," Kittinger said after the jump. "Future astronauts will wear the spacesuit that Felix test-jumped today." The 4-minute, 20-second jump was also good news for social media, the AP reports—nearly 7.3 million viewers watched it live on YouTube; a picture of Baumgartner after landing was shared more than 29,000 times in less than 40 minutes on Facebook; and tweets about the jump surpassed even those about Justin Bieber. The AP also has a comparison of Baumgartner's and Kittinger's history-making jumps.