Remember Felix Baumgartner, the daredevil, base jumper, and skydiver who spent years dreaming of breaking the speed of sound with his own body? Remember his jump from space? Some old dude who works for Google just broke his record, in secret, with almost no fanfare.
Alan Eustace, who has been with Google since 2002 and is currently involved in search, jumped from a balloon that was well into the stratosphere, 135,908 feet above Earth (roughly 25 miles). Baumgartner's jump was from roughly 127,852 feet. Like Baumgartner, Eustache broke the speed of sound, becoming just the second person to do it in free fall.
Beyond merely being an extremely badass thing to do, Eustace worked with a company called Paragon Space Development Corporation, which designed the balloon and suit he wore—the idea being that a high altitude skydive is a good way of testing out how well humans can hang out up in the stratosphere.
"The StratEx program goal was to develop a self-contained spacesuit and recovery system that would allow manned exploration of the stratosphere above 100,000 feet," the company wrote.
It took Eustache roughly 15 minutes to complete the 25 mile fall, according to the company.
While Baumgartner's jump was live streamed and accompanied with dozens of cameras and many test jumps and the Red Bull marketing machine, Eustace's was announced with a very modest press release on Paragon's website:
"Ascending at about 1,000 feet per minute, Alan achieved his target altitude in about two and a half hours. He spent a short time, around a half hour, experiencing the wonders of the stratosphere before being released from the balloon. In rapid free fall, Alan experienced a short period of near weightlessness and within 90 seconds exceeded the speed of sound. Stabilized by a small drogue chute, he continued to free fall into thickening atmosphere for about five minutes. Slowing to a much more modest speed, he deployed his parachute at around 18,000 feet and floated gently to the ground."
There were no special capsules, barely even a special parachute (his chute was "similar in size and design to tandem parachutes used for sport," the company said). Likewise, the spacesuit was similar to those used aboard the International Space Station. He ascended with a giant balloon that was filled with helium. He took with him a single GoPro, shots of which you can see in the video above.
What a cool dude.