In a giant leap from more than 24 miles up, daredevil skydiver Felix Baumgartner shattered the sound barrier while making the highest jump ever – a tumbling, death-defying plunge from a balloon to a safe landing in the New Mexico desert.
The Austrian on Sunday October 14 hit Mach 1.24, or 833.9 mph (1,342 kph) , according to preliminary data.
That meant he became the first man to reach supersonic speed without travelling in a jet or a spacecraft, after hopping out of a capsule that had reached an altitude of 128,100 feet (39,045 meters) 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 friends and spectators, who closely followed his descent in a live television feed at the command centre.
A worldwide audience watched live on the internet via cameras mounted on his capsule as Baumgartner, wearing a pressurised suit, stood in the doorway of his capsule, gave a thumbs-up and leapt into the stratosphere.
"The whole world is watching now. I wish it could see what I can see," he said just before making the jump.
Baumgartner's descent lasted just over nine minutes, about half of it in a freefall of 119,846 feet (36,530 meters), according to Brian Utley, a jump observer from the FAI, an international group that works to determine and maintain the integrity of aviation records.
During the first part of Baumgartner's free fall, anxious onlookers at the command centre held their breath as the 43-year-old appeared to spin uncontrollably.
The former Austrian paratrooper, with more than 2,500 jumps behind him, had taken off early on Sunday in a capsule carried by a 55-storey ultra-thin helium balloon.
As Baumgartner ascended, so did the number of viewers watching on YouTube. Its officials said the event broke a site record with more than eight million simultaneous live streams at its peak.
Baumgartner has said he plans to settle down with his girlfriend and fly helicopters on mountain rescue and firefighting missions in the US and Austria.