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Oct 24, 3:55 PM EDT

Google exec sets records with leap from near-space

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ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) -- A Google executive has broken the sound barrier and set several skydiving records over the southern New Mexico desert after taking a leap from the edge of space.

Alan Eustace's supersonic jump early Friday from a high-altitude, helium-filled balloon is part of a project by Paragon Space Development Corp. and its Stratospheric Explorer team. The goal is to develop a self-contained commercial spacesuit that would allow people to explore the stratosphere.

Eustace started his dive at 135,908 feet. He remained in freefall for about 4.5 minutes, hitting a top speed of 822 mph.

Jim Hayhurst with the United States Parachute Association was the jump's official observer. He says Eustace's freefall was perfectly stable, and the team on the ground could hear the sonic boom.

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