As part of the Red Bull Stratos mission, Felix Baumgartner broke at least three world records today when he free-fell from the edge of the stratosphere back down to earth with nothing but a suit and a chute.
First, he broke the record for highest jump from a platform at 128,100 feet (around 23 miles) after ascending to that height in a tense three-hour ascension via balloon.
Second, he set a new record for the longest distance freefall at 119,846 feet. During that fall, he broke the sound barrier and man's record for maximum vertical velocity by travelling at a speed of 833.9 mph, or Mach 1.24.
Another as-yet-confirmed record may lie in Internet infamy, as YouTube (one of the few video services live-streaming the event) clocked in its live, concurrent viewership at least 8 million during Baumgartner's freefall. To put that in perspective, recent streaming of the Olympic games peaked at a little over half a million concurrent views.
The event that stands closest in contention for the concurrent views on YouTube crown is the first U.S. presidential debate of this year's election. YouTube commented that Obama and Romney's back-and-forth garnered "millions of live streamed views of the debates, and one of the highest number of concurrent streams ever for a YouTube live stream."
While Baumgartner may not be dethroning Bieber for total lifetime views anytime soon, it's clear that not only does the world still marvel at the widening limits of human endeavor, but that YouTube has a meaningful part to play in how that liminal exploration will be seen across the globe.
Already, critics are calling into question the role of corporations in the future of technological and galactic discovery, saying that feeding these landmark moments to companies like Red Bull and Google only serve to monetize the expanding breadth of knowledge and experience.
Just minutes after mission Red Bull Stratos landed safely on the ground in New Mexico, his arms raised in triumph, NASA's official Twitter account congratulated Baumgartner for his "record-breaking leap from the edge of space."
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