Like millions of other viewers, I was riveted by Felix Baumgartner’s record-setting balloon ascent and free fall jump today. He rose above 24 miles during 2 1/2 hours, with the tension throughout of a malfunctioning heating element on his visor that might have cancelled the jump. He went anyway and had trouble seeing through the fogging on the way down.

The video above focusing on the two minutes before the jump gives you some idea of the meticulous attention needed for this five-year project to succeed.

Felix jumps from 24 miles high

The most exciting times for me were the actual jump (shown right) and the spin he went into when he hit air below the vacuum he jumped into. All that turning could have sent too much blood into his head, so that he would black out and not be able to deploy and guide his chute properly. But his years of experience jumping taught him how to recover to a stable situation. He said later that unlike normal jumps, his space suit this time prevented him from feeling the air to help him know what to do. It was like being in a cast.

Here is a link to a 90-second video of the day.