Alan Eustace, a senior Google vice president, set a new skydiving record on Friday after jumping from near the top of the stratosphere, at an altitude of over 25 miles, according to media reports. During the dive, Eustace broke the previous record set in 2012 by Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner.
The dive was reportedly part of a project led by Arizona-based Paragon Space Development Corporation, aimed at the exploration of the stratosphere above 100,000 feet.
According to a statement released by the company, the jump was made early on Friday after Eustace was lifted to a height of 135,890 feet by a helium balloon from Roswell, New Mexico. During the free-fall, which lasted about five minutes, the 57-year-old was wearing a specially-designed suit, which contained a life-support system to allow him to breathe pure oxygen.
The suit used during the mission is “similar to those used for Apollo and very similar to those used on the International Space Station,” the company said, in the statement.
“In rapid free fall, Alan experienced a short period of near weightlessness and within 90 seconds exceeded the speed of sound,” the statement said. “He deployed his parachute at around 18,000 feet and floated gently to the ground.”
During the free-fall, Eustace plummeted toward the earth at a maximum speed of over 800 miles a hour, setting off a sonic boom reportedly heard by people on the ground.
In the process, Eustace, a “senior vice president of knowledge” at Google and a veteran pilot, broke the previous record set by Baumgartner, who jumped from a height of nearly 128,000 feet, also from New Mexico, in 2012.
“It was amazing,” Eustace told The New York Times. “It was beautiful. You could see the darkness of space and you could see the layers of atmosphere, which I had never seen before.”