Project Manhigh

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Manhigh II balloon gondola displayed at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio

Project Manhigh along with Project Excelsior was a pre–Space Age military project that took men in balloons to the middle layers of the stratosphere.

History[edit]

The project started in December 1955 to study the effects of cosmic rays on humans. Three balloon flights to the stratosphere were made during the program:

  • Manhigh I to 29,500 m (96,784 feet), by Captain Joseph W. Kittinger II (1928–) on June 2, 1957
  • Manhigh II to 30,900 m (101,516 feet), by Major David G. Simons (1922–2010[1]) on August 19–20, 1957 for a 32-hour flight[2]
  • Manhigh III to 29,900 m (98,097 feet), by Lieutenant Clifton M. McClure (1932–2001[3]) on October 8, 1958[4]

With the pilot and the scientific payload, the Manhigh II gondola had a total mass of 748 kg (1,649 lb). At maximum altitude, the balloon expanded to a diameter of 60 m (200 ft) with a volume of over 85,000 m3 (111,000 cu yd).

A similar project in which a man in a gondola reached an altitude of 15,785 m (51,788 ft) was performed in 1931 by the Swiss physicist Auguste Piccard.

In popular culture[edit]

"Manhigh" was the name of the 2013 season one finale of the Showtime series Masters of Sex, and featured television coverage of Major David Simons' mission and return to earth.

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Kane, Joseph Nathan (1997), Famous First Facts: A Record of First Happenings, Discoveries, and Inventions in American History (Fifth Edition), The H.W. Wilson Company, ISBN 0-8242-0930-3

Further reading[edit]

  • Kennedy, Gregory P. (2007). Touching Space: The Story of Project Manhigh. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Books. ISBN 978-0-7643-2788-9. 
  • Ryan, Craig (1995). The Pre-Astronauts: Manned Ballooning on the Threshold of Space. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-732-5. 
  • Simons, David G.; Schanche, Don A. (1960). Manhigh. Avon Books. 

External links[edit]