Voices from New Mexico's Space History
Different quotations from New Mexico space pioneers appear on this page monthly. This is the October 2020 installment.
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On August 16, 1960, Air Force test pilot Joe Kittinger took his final high-altitude balloon flight to test a new parachute system. He stepped out of the balloon gondola at an altitude of 102,800 feet (19.5 miles), above 99.2 percent of the Earth's atmosphere. He landed safely 13 minutes, 45 seconds later. This excerpt is from Kittinger's book Come Up and Get Me.

The third Excelsior flight was planned for the summer of 1960. At that time of year, the winds would be blowing east to west rather than west to east, so we selected a spot outside the little ranch town of Tularosa [New Mexico], due north of Alamogordo, as our launch site. The balloon would drift out over the White Sands Proving Grounds and give us a nice fat landing target. ...

Not only did Excelsior III set the mark for the highest manned balloon flight, but nobody had ever been outside of a pressurized cabin at anything approaching 100,000 feet. We'd shown NASA that a space walk was possible. We'd demonstrated to all our military aircrews that the MC-3 partial-pressure suit was effective in conditions beyond anything most of them would ever experience. My top speed in free fall was measured at 614 miles per hour, on the verge of Mach 1. And we'd done it all for a fraction of what rocket travel was going to cost the nation in the future.



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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 2010-2020.

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For more information about New Mexico's contributions to space exploration, visit the New Mexico Museum of Space History.
On August 16, 1960, Air Force test pilot Joe Kittinger took his final high-altitude balloon flight to test a new parachute system. He stepped out of the balloon gondola at an altitude of 102,800 feet (19.5 miles), above 99.2 percent of the Earth's atmosphere. He landed safely 13 minutes, 45 seconds later. This excerpt is from Kittinger's book Come Up and Get Me.

The third Excelsior flight was planned for the summer of 1960. At that time of year, the winds would be blowing east to west rather than west to east, so we selected a spot outside the little ranch town of Tularosa [New Mexico], due north of Alamogordo, as our launch site. The balloon would drift out over the White Sands Proving Grounds and give us a nice fat landing target. ...

Not only did Excelsior III set the mark for the highest manned balloon flight, but nobody had ever been outside of a pressurized cabin at anything approaching 100,000 feet. We'd shown NASA that a space walk was possible. We'd demonstrated to all our military aircrews that the MC-3 partial-pressure suit was effective in conditions beyond anything most of them would ever experience. My top speed in free fall was measured at 614 miles per hour, on the verge of Mach 1. And we'd done it all for a fraction of what rocket travel was going to cost the nation in the future.




See previously featured quotes on the following pages:
Voices Archives for the current year
2019 Voices Archives
2018 Voices Archives
[Voices Archives from 2017 were lost in a computer crash]
2016 Voices Archives
2015 Voices Archives
2014 Voices Archives
2013 Voices Archives
2012 Voices Archives
2011 Voices Archives


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 2010-2020.

Voices from New Mexico's Space History
Different quotations from New Mexico space pioneers appear on this page monthly. This is the October 2020 installment.