On 16 August 1960, Joseph Kittinger lifted off from Earth in a helium balloon called (experimenting the effects of high altitude on the human body) and rose to a height of 31 333 m. Once he reached the edge of space, he did something incredibly brave and amazing… He jumped!
Kittinger’s record has remained untouched for 50 years; however, by the end of 2010, Felix Baumgartner and Michel Fournier individually plan to surpass this record. Others have tried, and died, over the last five decades. It remains to be seen whether the two men can break the record for the longest, fastest free-fall jump.
Until then, watch the video of Kittinger skydiving from the edge of the world back in ’60.
Read more about the challenges Baumgartner and Fournier face in the September 2010 issue of Popular Mechanics – on sale on 23 August.