Yesterday Felix Baumgartner set new world records by skydiving from 128,100 feet and breaking the sound barrier during his fall.
The records he broke were set in 1960 by US Air Force Capt. Joseph Kittinger Jr., who jumped from 102,800 feet and achieved a top speed of 614 mph (or .9 Mach). Jumping from a higher altitude allowed Baumgartner to accelerate to a faster speed in the thinner air - he reached a top speed of 833 mph (1.24 Mach) during his descent.
Because of the higher altitude achieved by Baumgartner, he ascended to his jump altitude in a pressurized capsule while wearing a custom-made full pressure suit, much like astronauts wear. Kittinger ascended in an open and unpressurized gondola while wearing a standard USAF partial-pressure suit.
Before Baumgartner's attempt, Kittinger offered some sage advice: Be prepared. Know what to do, and how to do it.
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