Skydiver Felix Baumgartner Completes 18 Mile Jump

PHOTO: Felix Baumgartner is shown upon landing from his 18-mile dive back to Earth from the edge of space, in a plummet that reached a speed of 600 mph in 20 seconds.
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Daredevil Felix Baumgartner this morning landed from his 18-mile dive back to Earth from the edge of space, in a plummet that reached a speed of more than 500 mph.

Mission Control gave the go ahead this morning for the launch, saying "God Speed Felix" from Roswell, N.M., where the mission is being hosted. Baumgartner, an Austrian national, was lifted in a capsule carried afloat by a huge helium balloon.

Click Here for Pictures: Felix Baumgartner's Dive

The balloon took 90 minutes to get to 90,000 feet. The crane holding the capsule went up as fast as it could to get the capsule under the 210-foot tall balloon as it rose. After he jumped, Baumgartner was in freefall for three minutes and 48 seconds . After five minutes, his parachute opened, at which point it took another seven to 10 minutes to descend to Earth. Baumgartner's speed went from 0 to 536 in 25 seconds flat.

"Fearless Felix" was in free fall for an estimated three minutes and 48 seconds. His top speed was approximately 536 mph, Brian Utley, an official observer on site, told The Associated Press.

"The pressure is huge, and we not only have to endure but excel," Baumgartner told ABC News before the jump. "We're excellently prepared, but it's never going to be a fun day. I'm risking my life, after all."

Red Bull is financing the daredevil skydive from space. The mission is named Stratos. It was five years of planning by a team of experts, many volunteering their services, to break several records in one breathtaking plunge back to Earth.

This was the second test dive for Baumgartner, who plans on a record-breaking jump from 125,000 feet, or 23 miles, next month.

The records Baumgartner plans to break include those for the first person to break the sound barrier outside of an aircraft, the record for freefall from the highest altitude, and that for the longest freefall time, expected to be five minutes and 35 seconds, and that for the highest-manned balloon flight.

Baumgartner, who has already jumped more than 2,500 times from planes and helicopters, would be breaking a 52-year-old record, and he recruited the man who set the record, the legendary retired Air Force Col. Joe Kittinger, for advice.

Kittinger jumped from a balloon Aug. 16, 1960, at an altitude of 102,900 feet, and fell for almost five minutes before opening a parachute to slow his descent at 18,000 feet.

He made history for the highest-balloon ascent, the highest parachute jump and the fastest speed by a human through the atmosphere.

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