Extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner landed safely on Earth after a 24-mile jump from the stratosphere in a dramatic, record-breaking feat that may also have marked the world's first supersonic skydive.
Baumgartner, from Austria, came down in the eastern New Mexico desert minutes after jumping from his capsule 128,097 feet, or 24 miles, above Earth.
He lifted his arms in victory shortly after landing, setting off loud cheers from jubilant onlookers and friends inside the mission's control centre in Roswell, New Mexico.
It was the highest-ever jump for a skydiver, though it was not immediately certain whether Baumgartner had broken the speed of sound during his free-fall, which was one of the goals of the mission. Organisers said the descent lasted for just over nine minutes, about half of it in free-fall.
Three hours earlier, Baumgartner, known as "Fearless Felix," had taken off in a pressurised capsule carried by a 55-storey ultra-thin helium balloon. After an at-times tense ascent, which included concerns about how well his facial shield was working, the 43-year-old former military parachutist completed a final safety check-list with mission control.
As he exited his capsule from high above Earth, he flashed a thumbs-up sign, well aware that the feat was being shown on a live-stream on the internet with a 20-second delay.
During the ensuing jump - from more than three times the height of the average cruising altitude for jetliners - Baumgartner was expected to hit a speed of 690 mph.
Any contact with the capsule on his exit could have torn his pressurised suit, a rip that could expose him to a lack of oxygen and temperatures as low as minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 57 degrees Celsius). That could have caused lethal bubbles to form in his bodily fluids.
But none of that happened. He activated his parachute as he neared Earth, gently gliding into the desert east of Roswell and landing without any apparent difficulty. He then was taken by helicopter to meet fellow members of his team, whom he hugged in celebration.
Coincidentally, Baumgartner's attempted feat also marked the 65th anniversary of US test pilot Chuck Yeager's successful attempt to become the first man to officially break the sound barrier aboard an airplane.