TODAY   |  October 15, 2012

Skydiver’s edge-of-space dive breaks sound barrier

Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner makes a record-breaking jump from 24 miles above Earth, leaping from the edge of space to the New Mexico desert at speeds averaging 833 mph. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>>> and now for a jump that is right out of the ages. felix baumgartner stepped out of a balloon more than 24 miles up on sunday, and he stepped right into the record books. nbc's tom costello has more on fearless felix 's death-defying plunge. say that three times fast. tom, good morning.

>> reporter: good for you. felix baumgartner said he was most afraid of dying in front of his family and his girlfriend, considering that he jumped from an altitude three times higher than where jets fly. it was the highest jump ever. he broke the sound barrier as he fell 833 miles per hour, and he broke a youtube record for the most watched number of live views.

>> felix, disconnect the oxygen hose. that a boy.

>> reporter: there he was at 128,000 feet standing quite literally on the edge of space, preparing to do what no one had done before, with his mom watching from mission control , 43-year-old felix baumgartner offered a few words most hard to understand.

>> the whole world is watching us.

>> reporter: and then he was gone beginning a terrifying supersonic dive from 24 miles up. a white dot as he quickly passed 700 miles per hour.

>> speed 729.

>> reporter: day began well before sunrise in rosswell, new mexico as the red bull team laid out the balloon and fearless felix slipped into his spacesuit and capsule. he's made harrowing jumps before in brazil and croatia from 15 and 18 miles high, but sunday's mission was about breaking a free fall record that had stood since 1960 when joe kitinger jumped from 19.5 miles high and also breaking his sound barrier . if the suit tore the former australian paratrooper faced certain death. he was on the "today" show last week.

>> i like the challenge.

>> reporter: sunday after a brief burst of wind baumgartner's balloon got the green light .

>> there's the release, and there's the applause.

>> reporter: two and a half hours later he was standing where no man had stood before with joe kitinger on the radio.

>> and our guardian angel will take care of you.

>> reporter: out of the capsule felix was a bullet, 833 miles per hour, mach 1.24, exceeding the speed of sound , and then with his space mask fogging up what looks like a terrifying out-of-control flat spin before he stabilized. finally four and a half minutes later baumgartner pulled his chute and went to a gentle landing in a desert in new mexico.

>> when i'm standing up on the top of the world you become so humble you want to come back alive. you do want to die in front of your parents and girlfriend.

>> reporter: you want to come back alive. nasa believes there could be real scientific value. in the cutting edge spacesuit that he wore that allowed him to survive the jump and techniques that could be used in future commercial or nasa space missions what. will he do after this? he's ready to settle down and fly rescue helicopters for a living. matt?