In 1960, before Gagarin, Joe Kittinger reached the boundary between Earth and space using a balloon. He reached the incredible altitude of 31300 meters, 3.5 times the height of Mount Everest. It's not technically space (if a ballon can sustain itself, it means that there still is enough atmosphere for it to float) but it's admittedly a fuzzy limit.
That's fascinating in itself, but wait... Once he got there, he did the most amazing thing: he jumped. He... jumped... With a movie camera. Having jumped from a much more modest altitude, I can only begin to imagine the life-altering experience it must have been for him. Amazingly, we have images of his incredible dive.
That day, Joe Kittinger, at the peril of his life, advanced the whole of the human kind on its way into space, and broke four records: highest balloon ascent, highest parachute jump, longest freefall and fastest speed by a man through the atmosphere at a whopping 982 km/h.
Watch the video here: Skydiving from the edge of the world
Seen on Nobel Intent.