Felix Baumgartner shattered the world record for highest-altitude jump when he famously plummeted 128,100 feet to Earth on October 9, 2012. Sponsored by Red Bull, the event was an international phenomenon as 12.6 million people watched the event live. In the early morning hours of October 24, 57-year-old computer scientist Alan Eustace quietly broke that record by completing a jump from over a mile higher at 135,890 feet.
He had partnered with Paragon Space Development Corporation and was testing one of their life support spacesuits; the event was not done merely for publicity. The suit protected Eustace from the drastic temperature changes as he ascended and then descended through the atmosphere, and provided pure oxygen for him to breathe.
Eustace, a senior VP at Google, was lifted off a runway in Roswell, New Mexico by a large, helium-filled balloon. The balloon was attached directly to his spacesuit, pulling him up to his destination over a course of two hours. As he wasn’t transported with a capsule like Baumgartner, he was really able soak in the height at which he was going to fall and experience the changes in altitude. When it came time to jump, a small explosive device freed him from the balloon, and he descended over 25 miles to the Earth’s surface in just 15 minutes.
Eustace reached a top speed of 822 miles an hour and broke the speed of sound less than two minutes into his free fall. His parachute opened when he reached 18,000 feet, and he safely touched the ground about 70 miles away from where he launched.