An Austrian daredevil leapt into the stratosphere from a balloon hovering near the edge of space 24 miles (38 km) above Earth, breaking as many as three world records including the highest skydive ever, project sponsors said.
ITV News reporter Damon Green on the record breaking jump:
Cheers broke out as Felix Baumgartner, 43, jumped from a tiny shelf outside the 3.3-by-2.4 metre fiberglass and acrylic capsule that was carried to 128,000 feet by an enormous balloon.
"We love you Felix!" screamed the crowd as he plunged through the stratosphere.
His body pierced the atmosphere at speeds topping 700 miles per hour, appearing to achieve another of his goals: to become the first skydiver to break the speed of sound, according to the project website.
He sped toward Earth on the 65th anniversary of legendary American pilot Chuck Yeager's flight shattering the sound barrier on October 14th, 1947.
Speaking from the step of his capsule, he said: "I know the whole world is watching now, and I wish the world could see what I see.
"And sometimes you have to go up really high to understand how small you are."
But as he prepared to jump from the pressurized capsule, Baumgartner had checked through an equipment list from his seat and expressed concern that his astronaut-like helmet was not heating properly.
"This is very serious, Joe," said Baumgartner as the capsule, designed to remain at 55 degrees Fahrenheit ascended in skies where temperatures were expected to plunge below -91.8 F (-67.8 C), according to the project's website.
"My visor is fogging up," he gasped over the radio and he fell through the air moments before his parachute opened to the applause of the crowd on the ground, including his teary-eyed mother, father and girlfriend, watching on monitors miles below.
Baumgartner broke records for the highest altitude manned balloon flight and the highest altitude skydive before landing safely on the ground and raising his arms in a victory salute about 10 minutes after he stepped into the air.
Baumgartner's ascent into the stratosphere took about 2 1/2 hours. The 30 million-cubic-foot (850,000-cubic-metre) plastic balloon, is about one-tenth the thickness of a Ziploc bag, or roughly as thin as a dry cleaner bag.