Felix Baumgartner completes jump from the edge of space

Fearless Felix leaps into the record books

Felix Baumgartner has smashed the record books after becoming the first man to reach supersonic speed without travelling in a jet or spacecraft. Felix hit Mach 1.24, or 833.9mph (1,342kph) after jumping from the edge of space. Nearly 10 minutes later, he made a soft landing on his feet in the New Mexico desert in what has to be one of the most amazing events this century.

However, breaking the speed of sound wasn't the only record that fell last night. Felix also claimed the records for the highest altitude manned balloon flight and the highest altitude skydive.

The man known as Fearless Felix said: "When I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble, you do not think about breaking records anymore, you do not think about gaining scientific data.

"The only thing you want is to come back alive."

A worldwide audience watched live on the internet via cameras mounted on his capsule as Felix, wearing a pressurised suit, stood in the doorway, gave a thumbs-up and leapt into the stratosphere. More than 8 million people watched the event live on YouTube, another record for most streamed live event online.

After a perfect start, anxious viewers around the world looked on in agony as the Austrian started tumbling chaotically for what seemed like an eternity before finally achieving the correct position.

"The exit was perfect, then I started tumbling - I thought I'd get it under control, but then it really started. I really picked up speed, it got very violent. I thought for a few seconds I'll fall unconscious," he told German-language ServusTV in Austria in his first interview after the leap.

"Thank goodness, I managed to stop - it was very difficult. It was much more difficult than many of us expected."

Felix said he wasn't even aware of breaking the sound barrier.

"I didn't feel the sonic boom, I think it happens behind you," he said.

Felix standing on the edge of space

Asked after the jump what he wanted to do next, Felix said: "I want to inspire a generation. I'd like to be sitting in the same spot in the next four years as Joe Kittinger (his mentor). There is a young guy asking me for advice because he wants to break my record."

Felix previously had his first attempt aborted last Tuesday.

This will be the last jump, Felix said. He has promised to settle down and enjoy his post-jump years with his girlfriend, Nicole Oetl, flying ­helicopters on rescue missions in the US and Austria.

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Photos attributed to YouTube