Felix Baumgartner successfully completed a test jump from more than 18 miles above the earth Wednesday in his quest to break the record for the highest altitude freefall.
The test jump from 96,640 feet over Roswell, N.M. involved a 3-minute, 48-second freefall during which Baumgartner reached speeds of 536 mph.
It was the second and final test jump for the Red Bull Stratos mission, during which the 43-year-old Austrian hopes to successfully jump from 120,000 feet -- a distance of nearly 23 miles -- and break the current record of 102,800 feet set in 1960 by U.S. Air Force Col. (Ret.) Joe Kittinger, who is now Baumgartner's mentor.
Baumgartner also hopes to become the first person to break the speed of sound in freefall.
Wednesday's test jump, tentatively scheduled for Monday, was twice delayed due to thunderstorms, wind and rain.
"It was a rough couple of days and an exhausting endeavor. I am now really excited," Baumgartner said in a news release issued after the successful landing. "It has always been a dream of mine. Only one more step to go."
The date for the final jump is now subject to favorable weather conditions but may likely take place within the next month.
-- Kelly Burgess
Image courtesy of Red Bull Stratos