ROSWELL, New Mexico (Reuters) - An Austrian daredevil lept into the stratosphere on Sunday from a balloon flying 24 miles (38 km) above the planet in an attempt to break the sound barrier.
Cheers broke out as Felix Baumgartner, 43, jumped from a tiny shelf outside the 11-by-8-foot (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.
"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.
He landed about 10 minutes later, having broken the world record for the highest altitude jump by a skydiver, sponsors said.
As he prepared to jump from the pressurized capsule, Baumgartner went through a checklist of 40 items with project adviser Joe Kittinger, holder of a 19-mile high altitude parachute jump record that Baumgartner hopes to smash.
He 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. "Sometimes it's getting foggy when I exhale. ... I do not feel heat."
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.