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Stuntman one step closer to record freefall jump

posted 16 Mar 2012, 06:48 by Mpelembe   [ updated 16 Mar 2012, 06:49 ]

Austrian BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner completes an approximately 72,000 foot (22,000 metre) drop ahead of his record break attempt this summer.

ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO, UNITED STATES (RED BULL MEDIA HANDOUT - Austrian BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner edged a step closer to breaking the 52-year-old world freefall record.

He successfully completed a test jump from 71,581 ft. (21,818 metres) with the aim to beat the current jump record of 120,000 feet (36576 metres) above the earth's surface.

Baumgartner wore a specially-designed spacesuit and was brought into the stratosphere by a climbed into a Red Bull Stratos capsule attached to a balloon.

After completing a 39-step safety checklist, Baumgartner jumped out of the capsule and reached freefall for a total of three minutes and 43 seconds, of which he reached a top speed of 364.4 miles per hour (587 km/hr) .

Baumgartner then deployed his parachute at 7,890 ft. (2405 metres) above sea level before landing safely back on earth about 30 miles from the original launch site.

The BASE jumper was spent a total of about eight minutes and eight seconds in the air from launch to touchdown.

Upon landing, Baumgartner was met with hugs and high-fives by a retrieval team, including current record holder and adviser to the project, former U.S. pilot Joe Kittinger.

"Freefall took forever. I've never been in freefall for so long. It feels like you have to pull and you look at your altimeter and think 'Oh no, I still have a couple minutes.' That was good," said Baumgartner.

The successful test flight marked an important step in the upcoming record attempt, allowing Baumgartner and Mission Control to test the durability of the spacesuit, Baumgartner's reactions to the dangers he will be facing and also breaking the BASE jumper's personal freefall record of 30,000 ft (9144 metres).

Baumgartner's world record attempt is set to take place this summer.