Project Manhigh was based at the Aeromedical Field Laboratory at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in the 1950s. A single-man gondola carried into the stratosphere was used to evaluate the ability to construct a life-supporting spacecraft and the ability of a human to survive spaceflight. Dr. David Simons piloted Manhigh II, the most successful of the three flights. The following excerpt is from The Pre-Astronauts: Manned Ballooning on the Threshold of Space by Craig Ryan. It is a continuation of last month's Voices.

But the sensation of glory and the satisfaction in a job well done were short-lived. Simons found himself increasingly annoyed with the fickle attentions of the press. they did not understand the real significance of what he had done, nor why he had done it. And because of their professional cynicism, they were incapable of really appreciating it. One of the reporters at the postflight press conference went sniffing for an angle: "Was it a spiritual experience?"

Simons measured his words and spoke as a scientist: "I have a deep regard for the steady, progressive march of mankind. I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to move a step forward in the gradual pushing back of the frontier of progress. My spiritual experience here was tantamount to that of a biologist looking into a microscope and discovering a new virus."

The reporter challenged the response, accusing Simons of "humanism."

"To me," Simons said, "this is God: to contribute to the progress of mankind." ...

Simons was especially angered by the implication that the unstated goal of Project Manhigh from the beginning, had been to set an altitude record. He bristled at the suggestion that he was in it for personal glory. "I had a profound resentment toward people who thought the scientific part of it was an excuse," he would say. "I felt maligned."

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Project Manhigh was based at the Aeromedical Field Laboratory at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in the 1950s. A single-man gondola carried into the stratosphere was used to evaluate the ability to construct a life-supporting spacecraft and the ability of a human to survive spaceflight. Dr. David Simons piloted Manhigh II, the most successful of the three flights. The following excerpt is from
The Pre-Astronauts: Manned Ballooning on the Threshold of Space by Craig Ryan:

On August 24, 1957, Lt. Gen. Samuel E. Anderson, commander of the Air Research and Devleopment Command (ARDC), pinned the Distinguished Flying Cross on David Simons in a ceremony in Baltimore. The citation referred to a "valor above and beyond the call of duty ... under conditions never before experienced." For a brief period following the flight the Manhigh crew were the darlings of the press. Simons was the "daring young Air Force officer" and "the gallant major." An op-ed piece in the New York Times titled "The First Space Man" suggested that Manhigh II's pilot had rised to the rarefied heights as a representative not of his branch of the service or his country, but of all mankind: he "made the trip for all of us. Organized society took this step toward space as it has taken others in the past and will take many more." ... Manhigh had proved, [Colonel John] Stapp announced, that human beings could live outside of Earth's atmosphere. And David simons had proved his mettle as an aeronaut: "He was sort of a one-man band," Stapp explained, "keeping alive with one hand, watching dials, conducting experiments, and snappling camers with the other. Dave could sit in a gondola, handle 20 emergencies, and not die at once."
New Mexico's
Space Voices Archives

New Mexico's Space Voices Archives
2021 Voices entries will be archived here each month.

2021 Voices entries will be archived here each month.
Project Manhigh was based at the Aeromedical Field Laboratory at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in the 1950s. A single-man gondola carried into the stratosphere was used to evaluate the ability to construct a life-supporting spacecraft and the ability of a human to survive spaceflight. Dr. David Simons piloted Manhigh II, the most successful of the three flights. The following excerpt is from The Pre-Astronauts: Manned Ballooning on the Threshold of Space by Craig Ryan. It is a continuation of last month's Voices.

But the sensation of glory and the satisfaction in a job well done were short-lived. Simons found himself increasingly annoyed with the fickle attentions of the press. they did not understand the real significance of what he had done, nor why he had done it. And because of their professional cynicism, they were incapable of really appreciating it. One of the reporters at the postflight press conference went sniffing for an angle: "Was it a spiritual experience?"

Simons measured his words and spoke as a scientist: "I have a deep regard for the steady, progressive march of mankind. I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to move a step forward in the gradual pushing back of the frontier of progress. My spiritual experience here was tantamount to that of a biologist looking into a microscope and discovering a new virus."

The reporter challenged the response, accusing Simons of "humanism."

"To me," Simons said, "this is God: to contribute to the progress of mankind." ...

Simons was especially angered by the implication that the unstated goal of Project Manhigh from the beginning, had been to set an altitude record. He bristled at the suggestion that he was in it for personal glory. "I had a profound resentment toward people who thought the scientific part of it was an excuse," he would say. "I felt maligned."

---

Project Manhigh was based at the Aeromedical Field Laboratory at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in the 1950s. A single-man gondola carried into the stratosphere was used to evaluate the ability to construct a life-supporting spacecraft and the ability of a human to survive spaceflight. Dr. David Simons piloted Manhigh II, the most successful of the three flights. The following excerpt is from
The Pre-Astronauts: Manned Ballooning on the Threshold of Space by Craig Ryan:

On August 24, 1957, Lt. Gen. Samuel E. Anderson, commander of the Air Research and Devleopment Command (ARDC), pinned the Distinguished Flying Cross on David Simons in a ceremony in Baltimore. The citation referred to a "valor above and beyond the call of duty ... under conditions never before experienced." For a brief period following the flight the Manhigh crew were the darlings of the press. Simons was the "daring young Air Force officer" and "the gallant major." An op-ed piece in the New York Times titled "The First Space Man" suggested that Manhigh II's pilot had rised to the rarefied heights as a representative not of his branch of the service or his country, but of all mankind: he "made the trip for all of us. Organized society took this step toward space as it has taken others in the past and will take many more." ... Manhigh had proved, [Colonel John] Stapp announced, that human beings could live outside of Earth's atmosphere. And David simons had proved his mettle as an aeronaut: "He was sort of a one-man band," Stapp explained, "keeping alive with one hand, watching dials, conducting experiments, and snappling camers with the other. Dave could sit in a gondola, handle 20 emergencies, and not die at once."
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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.
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