Control room. Text on the left side monitor: NASA Lewis Research Center 9X15 LOW SPEED WIND TUNNEL. 11:19:28 3/6/1989
Photo credit: NASA/Glenn Research Center via archive.org
In 1960, U.S. Air Force pilot Joseph Kittinger flew thirty kilometers straight up into the sky using a pressurized, high-altitude balloon. This very nearly made him the first man in space.
Mr. Kittinger free-fell for over twenty kilometers - at which point he was moving so fast that he broke the sound barrier.
He had all but left the earth’s atmosphere; the sky around him was pitch black; he could see the outlines of entire continents; and the haiku-like abstraction of his available reference points – earth, balloon, space – made it impossible to tell if he was really falling.
Does this sound like fiction? Luckily, there’s a film.
“Say it. Say my name.”
There’s no science in this post. I just know we’re all gonna want to save this picture for future reference.