New Mexico's
Space Voices Archives

New Mexico's Space Voices Archives
This excerpt is from parachuting.com's article about Joe Kittinger, an Air Force test pilot actively involved in space research programs at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico in the 1950s and 1960s.

After Man High, Kittinger skippered Project Excelsior, meaning "Ever Upward" in Latin, which investigated aircraft bailout methods at extremely high altitudes. Nobody knew for sure if man could survive such a plummet, so, of course, Kittinger volunteered for the job. As the guinea pig in the gondola, he leapt three times from a balloon at the very edge of space, plunging to Earth in an experimental space suit and a prototype parachute rig - equipment built by the lowest bidder. One mistake in this hostile environment - frostbiting temperatures, oxygen-starved air and a near vacuum that would boil and bubble blood like a shaken can of cola - could have killed him. And if Kittinger had tumbled into a flat spin, possibly exceeding 200 rpms, he would have whirled faster than a pinwheel in a tornado, pureeing all of his internal organs.

"You wouldn't be dizzy, you'd be dead," Kittinger said. "It's something you wanted to stay away from."

===

This excerpt is from an October 15, 2009, article on Wired.com:

One of the giants in aerospace has successfully flown a reusable rocket plane aimed at developing an inexpensive orbital delivery system. The unmanned winged vehicle flew on October 10 and is part of an ongoing Lockheed Martin program to demonstrate the viability of low cost, quick turnaround space delivery systems.

Lockheed Martin is working with UP Aerospace on the project. UP Aerospace provided the launch services for Saturday's flight, the third in a series of test flights that have so far been kept under tight wraps and out of public view. The Lockheed Martin/UP Aerospace team is operating from the growing Spaceport America in New Mexico.

===

This excerpt is from Chapter 2 of NASA's This
New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury, available at https://www.hq.nasa.gov/pao/History/SP-4201/toc.htm.

   During the six-year hiatus [1952-1957] in animal rocket experminetation in this country, investigators had to resort to the aircraft, "the oldest aeromedican laboratory," for studying the weightless phenomenon. In 1950, Friz and Heinz Haber, of the Air Force School of Aviation Medicine, had considered various ways of simulating zero g for medical experiments. Discarding the free fall and the elevator ride, the Habers concluded tat the best technique involved an airplane flight along a vertical parabola, or "Keplerian trajectory." If properly executed, such a maneuver could provide as much as 35 seconds of zero g and a somewhat longer period of subgravity....
   In 1953 a small group comprising the Space Biology Branch of the Aeromedical Field Laboratory at Holloman Air Force Base [in New Mexico] inaugurated an ambitious program of parabolic flights to continue the investigations of weightless flight.... Supervised by Major David G. Simons, a physician who acted as test subject on many occasions, the Holloman study for two years utilized T-33 and F-89 jet aircraft. Late in 1955 ... the standard tool for zero g research became the F-94C, which offered a longer parabola than other aircraft and thus a longer period of weightlessness....
   [Researchers at Holloman and at Randolph Air Force Base] carried out numerous eye-hand coordination tests, for example, wherein a subject tried to make crosses in a pattern or hit a target with a metal stylus.... The Air Force scientists also studied eating and drinking, bladder function, and disorientation after awakening during weightlessness; the functions of zero g of various animals, especially cats whose vestibular organs had been removed.

===

This excerpt is from "The astronomer who discovered Pluto in 1930 still keeps an eye of the sky from his backyard in New Mexico" in the May 1991 issue of Smithsonian magazine:

World War II took him away from the science he loved. During the war he taught Navy navigators in Flagstaff [Arizona] and afterward, in what has to be one of the worst displays of ingratitude in the history of science, he was told he'd have to leave the [Lowell] observatory because of a budget crunch. After nine years at White Sands Missile Range developing telescopes to watch rockets in flight, he went to New Mexico State University to teach....

Even in a fairly active retirement, his first love remains the sky. The backyard of his house in Las Cruces [New Mexico] bristles with telescopes, including one with a 16-inch mirror. On a clear evening, we go out to observe. We use a 10-inch instrument attached to the chassis of an old lawn mower so that it can be wheeled around....

As we stroll back toward the house, he pauses at another of his telescopes. Pointing out some details ("This shaft came from a 1910 Buick, this stand's from an old cream separator"), Tombaugh displays the very telescope he built as a farmboy in Kansas....

"I got a letter from the Smithsonian a while back. They said they wanted it for the museum." He pats the instrument lovingly. "I told them they couldn't have it. I'm not through using it yet!"

===

This excerpt is from Out of this World: New Mexico's Contributions to Space Travel:

E
ffie Ward's neighbors were frightened and furious. Bob Goddard had set off another one of his confounded rockets from the cabbage patch on his Aunt Effie's farm. This time, it was more than annoying, it was downright dangerous. They were not about to let him continue disrupting their peace and risking damage to their property. Massachusetts was not a proper place for these shenanigans.

He'd shot off the first one back in March of 1926. The rudimentary device [consisted of] two liquid fuel tanks and a combustion chamber connected by a 10-foot-long, spindly skeleton of metal fuel lines....

The first flight of a liquid-fuel rocket was as monumental as the first airplane flight had been, twenty-three years earlier. Goddard's rocket took 9½ seconds less to fly 11 feet higher and 85 feet farther. But the Wright Brothers' plane carried a person, and it flew a distance of 852 feet in 59 seconds later that same day. Maximum speeds: 60 miles an hour for the rocket and 34 miles an hour for the plane.

===

This excerpt is from "Countdown to the X Prize Cup" by Wayne Mattson in the October 2004 issue of New Mexico Space Journal:

The government sponsored competitions among several manufacturers to develop single-stage launch vehicles. From 1991 to 1993 McDonnell-Douglas developed the Delta Clipper Experimental (DC-X) that would take off and land vertically. Over the next two years, the company conducted eight test flights at the White Sands Missile Range. The company then created a modified version, the Delta Clipper Experimental Advanced (DC-XA) and conducted four test flights, including a twenty-six hour turnaround time between the second and third flights, a first for any rocket. Unfortunately, after this success, bad fortune visited the project. First, the company got word the program was cancelled due to lack of funding by the U.S. government. With just enough funds left in the current contract for one last test flight, the DC-XA was launched for the fourth flight, but as it landed, one of the struts failed to extend, causing the vehicle to tip over and explode. Despite the unseemly end, the DC-X and DC-XA did prove the viability of a vertical takeoff and landing space vehicle.

===

The following brief article appeared in the March 2, 1947, issue of the Albuquerque Journal, datelined El Paso, TX:

   Families of 13 German scientists who are working at Fort  Bliss laboratories in connection with the V-2 rocket tests at White Sands Proving Ground [in New Mexico] arrived today from Germany.
   The scientists, armed with flowers, were waiting at the Southern Pacific station  as the train pulled in. Some of the smaller children wept as they embraced their fathers, from whom they had been separated for two years.
   Dr. Herbert Axseer, who met his wife and two children from Landeshut, Bavaria, said the families arrived in New York Monday. Dr. Herman Langer of Dresden was joined by his wife, three children and his father-in-law, Anatole Koulikof.
   The scientists, including Wernher von Braun, 34, rocket inventor, have been contributing their knowledge and experience to the Army ordnance department's experiments at White Sands more than a year.

===

On December 20, 2017, Kevin Robinson-Avila reported the following in the Albuquerque Journal:

Spaceport America in southern New Mexico logged its busiest year in launch activity since construction of the facility began in 2006.

It hosted 14 vertical rocket launches by different Spaceport tenants during fiscal year 2017, plus two balloon flights by the Boeing Co. and horizontal flight tests of Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo, the mothership that will carry future passenger rockets part way to space when the company eventually launches commercial activities in New Mexico.

Others conducted launch-system testing during the year, and some 1,100 students descended on the Spaceport in June for a worldwide collegiate rocket competition dubbed the Spaceport America Cup. That weeklong event, organized by the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition, featured 60 launches of up to 30,000 feet by teams from a dozen countries.

That makes 101 launches to date out of the Spaceport, demonstrating the facility's potentially magnetic appeal to the emerging commercial space industry, Spaceport CEO Dan Hicks told the Albuquerque Economic Forum on Wednesday morning.


 


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This excerpt is from parachuting.com's article about Joe Kittinger, an Air Force test pilot actively involved in space research programs at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico in the 1950s and 1960s.

After Man High, Kittinger skippered Project Excelsior, meaning "Ever Upward" in Latin, which investigated aircraft bailout methods at extremely high altitudes. Nobody knew for sure if man could survive such a plummet, so, of course, Kittinger volunteered for the job. As the guinea pig in the gondola, he leapt three times from a balloon at the very edge of space, plunging to Earth in an experimental space suit and a prototype parachute rig - equipment built by the lowest bidder. One mistake in this hostile environment - frostbiting temperatures, oxygen-starved air and a near vacuum that would boil and bubble blood like a shaken can of cola - could have killed him. And if Kittinger had tumbled into a flat spin, possibly exceeding 200 rpms, he would have whirled faster than a pinwheel in a tornado, pureeing all of his internal organs.

"You wouldn't be dizzy, you'd be dead," Kittinger said. "It's something you wanted to stay away from."

---
This excerpt is from an October 15, 2009, article on Wired.com:

One of the giants in aerospace has successfully flown a reusable rocket plane aimed at developing an inexpensive orbital delivery system. The unmanned winged vehicle flew on October 10 and is part of an ongoing Lockheed Martin program to demonstrate the viability of low cost, quick turnaround space delivery systems.

Lockheed Martin is working with UP Aerospace on the project. UP Aerospace provided the launch services for Saturday's flight, the third in a series of test flights that have so far been kept under tight wraps and out of public view. The Lockheed Martin/UP Aerospace team is operating from the growing Spaceport America in New Mexico.

---
This excerpt is from Chapter 2 of NASA's
This New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury, available at https://www.hq.nasa.gov/pao/History/SP-4201/toc.htm.

   During the six-year hiatus [1952-1957] in animal rocket experminetation in this country, investigators had to resort to the aircraft, "the oldest aeromedican laboratory," for studying the weightless phenomenon. In 1950, Friz and Heinz Haber, of the Air Force School of Aviation Medicine, had considered various ways of simulating zero g for medical experiments. Discarding the free fall and the elevator ride, the Habers concluded tat the best technique involved an airplane flight along a vertical parabola, or "Keplerian trajectory." If properly executed, such a maneuver could provide as much as 35 seconds of zero g and a somewhat longer period of subgravity....
   In 1953 a small group comprising the Space Biology Branch of the Aeromedical Field Laboratory at Holloman Air Force Base [in New Mexico] inaugurated an ambitious program of parabolic flights to continue the investigations of weightless flight.... Supervised by Major David G. Simons, a physician who acted as test subject on many occasions, the Holloman study for two years utilized T-33 and F-89 jet aircraft. Late in 1955 ... the standard tool for zero g research became the F-94C, which offered a longer parabola than other aircraft and thus a longer period of weightlessness....
   [Researchers at Holloman and at Randolph Air Force Base] carried out numerous eye-hand coordination tests, for example, wherein a subject tried to make crosses in a pattern or hit a target with a metal stylus.... The Air Force scientists also studied eating and drinking, bladder function, and disorientation after awakening during weightlessness; the functions of zero g of various animals, especially cats whose vestibular organs had been removed.

---
This excerpt is from "The astronomer who discovered Pluto in 1930 still keeps an eye of the sky from his backyard in New Mexico" in the May 1991 issue of Smithsonian magazine:

World War II took him away from the science he loved. During the war he taught Navy navigators in Flagstaff [Arizona] and afterward, in what has to be one of the worst displays of ingratitude in the history of science, he was told he'd have to leave the [Lowell] observatory because of a budget crunch. After nine years at White Sands Missile Range developing telescopes to watch rockets in flight, he went to New Mexico State University to teach....

Even in a fairly active retirement, his first love remains the sky. The backyard of his house in Las Cruces [New Mexico] bristles with telescopes, including one with a 16-inch mirror. On a clear evening, we go out to observe. We use a 10-inch instrument attached to the chassis of an old lawn mower so that it can be wheeled around....

As we stroll back toward the house, he pauses at another of his telescopes. Pointing out some details ("This shaft came from a 1910 Buick, this stand's from an old cream separator"), Tombaugh displays the very telescope he built as a farmboy in Kansas....

"I got a letter from the Smithsonian a while back. They said they wanted it for the museum." He pats the instrument lovingly. "I told them they couldn't have it. I'm not through using it yet!"
---
This excerpt is from Out of this World: New Mexico's Contributions to Space Travel:

Effie Ward's neighbors were frightened and furious. Bob Goddard had set off another one of his confounded rockets from the cabbage patch on his Aunt Effie's farm. This time, it was more than annoying, it was downright dangerous. They were not about to let him continue disrupting their peace and risking damage to their property. Massachusetts was not a proper place for these shenanigans.

He'd shot off the first one back in March of 1926. The rudimentary device [consisted of] two liquid fuel tanks and a combustion chamber connected by a 10-foot-long, spindly skeleton of metal fuel lines....

The first flight of a liquid-fuel rocket was as monumental as the first airplane flight had been, twenty-three years earlier. Goddard's rocket took 9½ seconds less to fly 11 feet higher and 85 feet farther. But the Wright Brothers' plane carried a person, and it flew a distance of 852 feet in 59 seconds later that same day. Maximum speeds: 60 miles an hour for the rocket and 34 miles an hour for the plane.
---
This excerpt is from "Countdown to the X Prize Cup" by Wayne Mattson in the October 2004 issue of New Mexico Space Journal:

The government sponsored competitions among several manufacturers to develop single-stage launch vehicles. From 1991 to 1993 McDonnell-Douglas developed the Delta Clipper Experimental (DC-X) that would take off and land vertically. Over the next two years, the company conducted eight test flights at the White Sands Missile Range. The company then created a modified version, the Delta Clipper Experimental Advanced (DC-XA) and conducted four test flights, including a twenty-six hour turnaround time between the second and third flights, a first for any rocket. Unfortunately, after this success, bad fortune visited the project. First, the company got word the program was cancelled due to lack of funding by the U.S. government. With just enough funds left in the current contract for one last test flight, the DC-XA was launched for the fourth flight, but as it landed, one of the struts failed to extend, causing the vehicle to tip over and explode. Despite the unseemly end, the DC-X and DC-XA did prove the viability of a vertical takeoff and landing space vehicle.
---
The following brief article appeared in the March 2, 1947, issue of the Albuquerque Journal, datelined El Paso, TX:

   Families of 13 German scientists who are working at Fort  Bliss laboratories in connection with the V-2 rocket tests at White Sands Proving Ground [in New Mexico] arrived today from Germany.
   The scientists, armed with flowers, were waiting at the Southern Pacific station  as the train pulled in. Some of the smaller children wept as they embraced their fathers, from whom they had been separated for two years.
   Dr. Herbert Axseer, who met his wife and two children from Landeshut, Bavaria, said the families arrived in New York Monday. Dr. Herman Langer of Dresden was joined by his wife, three children and his father-in-law, Anatole Koulikof.
   The scientists, including Wernher von Braun, 34, rocket inventor, have been contributing their knowledge and experience to the Army ordnance department's experiments at White Sands more than a year.
---
On December 20, 2017, Kevin Robinson-Avila reported the following in the Albuquerque Journal:

   Spaceport America in southern New Mexico logged its busiest year in launch activity since construction of the facility began in 2006.
   It hosted 14 vertical rocket launches by different Spaceport tenants during fiscal year 2017, plus two balloon flights by the Boeing Co. and horizontal flight tests of Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo, the mothership that will carry future passenger rockets part way to space when the company eventually launches commercial activities in New Mexico.
   Others conducted launch-system testing during the year, and some 1,100 students descended on the Spaceport in June for a worldwide collegiate rocket competition dubbed the Spaceport America Cup. That weeklong event, organized by the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition, featured 60 launches of up to 30,000 feet by teams from a dozen countries.
   That makes 101 launches to date out of the Spaceport, demonstrating the facility's potentially magnetic appeal to the emerging commercial space industry, Spaceport CEO Dan Hicks told the Albuquerque Economic Forum on Wednesday morning.

Photo Credits
Robert Goddard towing one of his rockets to the launch site near Roswell about 1931, courtesy of NASA.

WhiteKnightTwo carrying SpaceShipTwo at Spaceport America runway dedication flyover, photo by Loretta Hall.
Unless otherwise credited, all material on this site is © Loretta Hall 2010-2018.