Balloons were flown to extreme altitudes in Projects Manhigh and Excelsior, starting shortly after the film debuted. In the latter, then-Captain Joseph Kittinger successfully completed a jump of 103,000 feet, free-falling for more than 4 minutes with only a small drogue chute, something similar to a kite's tail, to prevent him from spinning. Despite suffering severe bruising from the extreme low pressure trauma experienced at that altitude (similar to "sea" level on Mars), and frostbite from the extreme cold (almost 100F below zero) Kittinger was none the worse for his dangerous adventure. See more »
Guy Madison portrays an Air Force flight surgeon who performs daring experiments in space medicine. He's somewhat of a cross between real-life researchers Col. John Paul Stapp (rider of the famous rocket sled) and Capt. Joseph W. Kittinger, who performed a free-fall parachute jump from a balloon floating at 102,800 feet in 1961...5 years or so after the release of this movie!
The planning and execution of the high-altitude balloon jumps is detailed in this movie.
Admittedly, it's not a film for everyone, and it has its share of cliches, but remember that this was released in 1956. It's an interesting movie, very dated now, but that actually enhances its appeal for those interested in the earliest days of the space program.
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