25 Oct 2014

Stratospheric skydive breaks records

5:49 pm on 25 October 2014

A Google executive has plunged from the stratosphere to break the world record for the highest-altitude skydive.

Google executive Alan Eustace after a record-breaking 135,908 foot, or 41,000 meter space dive, parachuting back to Earth

Google executive Alan Eustace parachuting back to Earth Photo: AFP / Copyright 2014 Paragon Space Development Corporation

Alan Eustace, 57, set off from a runway in Roswell, New Mexico, connected to a large helium balloon which carried him for two hours and seven minutes to his target altitude of 40kms above the earth.

He then leapt out in a specially-designed space suit, reaching speeds of more than 1,300 kms.

The BBC reports Mr Eustace exceeded the speed of sound, setting off a small sonic boom, and set several skydiving records in the process.

The veteran pilot and parachutist had been planning the jump for several years, working in secret with a small group of people trained in parachute and balloon technology.

The dive was part of a project led by Paragon Space Development Corporation, aimed at the exploration of the stratosphere above 30,480 metres.

Mr Estace smashed the previous altitude record set by the Austrian daredevil, Felix Baumgartner.