Falling Faster Than The Speed of Sound

Alan Eustace, a senior VP at Google, breaks the world record for high-altitude jumps. Image Credit: Atomic Entertainment and Paragon Space Development Corporation

Alan Eustace, a computer scientist at Google broke the world record for the highest-altitude free-fall jump.

Alan went up in a hot air balloon actually filled with 35,000 cubic feet of helium gas and jumped off from the middle of the stratosphere, 26 miles from the Earth. It took him 15 minutes to reach back the Earth’s surface. The previous record was made by Felix Baumgartner in October 2012 when he jumped down 23 miles towards the Earth.

Did you know that the stratosphere is the part of the Earth’s atmosphere much above the clouds, higher than the Mount Everest, and even further up from where large airplanes fly?

Example of a Space Shuttle. floating at the top of stratosphere (in white),
Example of a Space Shuttle. floating at the top of stratosphere (in white), Image Credit: NASA/Crew of Expedition 22

The temperature here is freezing cold and required Alan to wear a special suit designed by his friends at Paragon Space Development Corporation. The suit was especially designed down to every detail to keep Alan safe and warm.

Can you imagine what it would feel like to keep falling down for 15 minutes! “It was amazing,” Alan said. “It was beautiful. You could see the darkness of space and you could see the layers of atmosphere, which I had never seen before”, reported the New York Times. Of the 15 minutes, Alan was falling freely for the first 4 minutes and 27 seconds to reach his top speed of 821 miles per hour; after which his parachute opened to slow him down.

Alan Eustace landing. with his special suit and life-support system. Image Credit: Paragon Space Development Corporation

An awesome jump! Congratulations to Alan Eustace, who also holds a position called “senior vice president of knowledge” at Google.

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