Our planet never seems more beautiful than from a distance. Extreme jumper Felix Baumgartner brought back this amazingly distant view — from 71,580 feet above the surface — before jumping out of his space capsule and hurtling home at 365 mph in his quest to hit supersonic speeds without an aircraft.
The Austrian extreme athlete set off from Roswell, New Mexico in a balloon-lifted space capsule yesterday morning to test his equipment and join an elite group of just three men who have jumped from above the "Armstrong Point" where the conditions are so inhospitable a human would quickly die without special equipment.
One of the other men to accomplish the feat is jump height record holder Joseph Kittinger, who is an advisor to the attempt and was on the ground to watch the attempt. You can read more about Kittinger and the jump attempt here.
Baumgartner wants to hit supersonic speeds in his next jump, but for the moment he's trying to make sure his capsule, suit, and parachute all work. It appears everything was normal (although his hands were extremely cold) and he can proceed to his next jump from 90,000 feet.
Since Red Bull is sponsoring this effort, expect more incredible photography and video.
(Thanks to everyone for the tip!)