Video: Parachutist Felix Baumgartner leaps from 18 miles up to prepare for record 23 mile jump

 

Skydiver “Fearless Felix” Baumgartner made his second stratospheric leap Wednesday, this time from more than 18 miles (29 kilometers) above the Earth —nearly three times higher than cruising jetliners.

The Austrian landed safely near Roswell, New Mexico, according to a project spokeswoman.

It's a personal best for Baumgartner, who is aiming for a record-breaking jump from 23 miles (37 kilometers) in another month.

He hopes to go supersonic, breaking the speed of sound with just his body.

Longtime record-holder Joe Kittinger jumped from 19.5 miles (31 kilometers) in 1960 for the Air Force. The 84-year-old Kittinger monitored Wednesday's jump.

The 43-year-old Baumgartner ascended alone in an enclosed capsule lifted by a giant helium balloon. He wore a full-pressure suit equipped with parachutes and an oxygen supply. There's virtually no atmosphere that far up.

He was in free fall for an estimated three minutes and 48 seconds before opening his parachutes. His speed and other details were not immediately available.

NASA is paying close attention to the project called Stratos, short for stratosphere. The U.S. space agency wants to learn all it can about potential escape systems for future rocket ships.

Baumgartner won't come close to space, even on the ultimate jump that's planned for late August or early September. Space officially begins at 100 kilometers, or 62 miles.

Baumgartner, a former military parachutist and extreme athlete, has jumped more than 2,500 times from planes and helicopters, as well as from skyscrapers and landmarks, including the 101-story Taipei 101 in Taiwan.

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