Two years after Felix Baumgartner jumped from a capsule in the stratosphere for Red Bull, a quiet group led by now-retired Google exec Alan Eustace beat the height record -- without a capsule. (Neither livestreamed nor promoted, the jump record was announced the next day.) In a custom 500-pound spacesuit, Eustace was strapped to a weather balloon, and rose to a height of over 135,000 feet, where he dove to Earth at speeds exceeding 821 mph -- breaking both the sound barrier and previous records for high-altitude jumps.
Leading up to this jump, Eustace and his partners in StratEx had spent years solving a key problem of stratosphere exploration: returning human beings to Earth from the edge of space using minimal life-support systems. In the process, they’ve opened the door to cheaper and safer near-space travel.