Purpose of the flight and payload description

Was a project to have human subjects stage experimental parachute jumps from balloon gondolas at altitudes ranging up to approximately 100.000 feet.

In this flight the balloon carried a Freedom Space Capsule shaped gondola and a dummy made of steel and rubber named "Sad Sam".

The purpose of the experiment was to test high altitude parachute equipment and to gather other information for an actual manned "high dive" bailout over New Mexico planned for that summer.

Details of the balloon flight

Balloon launched on: 5/5/1957 at V
Launch site: University of Minnesota Airport, New Brighton, US  
Balloon launched by: General Mills Inc.
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon  
Flight identification number: GMI 2233
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 5/6/1957 at ~ 03:00 am (local)
Balloon flight duration (F: time at float only, otherwise total flight time in d:days / h:hours or m:minutes - ): 22 h
Landing site: In Saratoga, Iowa, 15 miles W of Cresco.

The balloon was launched at dawn on Sunday, May 5, 1957 using the firefighter ring technique.

Tracking crews followed the balloon as it rose to 90,000 feet and then drifted over southern Minnesota.

Four hours after takeoff, technicians tried to release the dummy parachutist by remote control. Two systems had been designed to cut the dummy loose, but the equipment failed. An automatic timeclock device in the gondola also failed.

The tracking crews could do nothing but wait and hoped that once night came, the cooler air would bring the balloon down.

A spokesman said that winds on Sunday would probably cause the balloon to drift possibly as far as southern Iowa. He added that while the bag would likely descend at night, it would probably go back up to 90,00 feet (17 miles) the next morning. Meanwhile, the balloon continued drifting southward towards Iowa.

Finally the balloon touched ground around 3 a.m. near Saratoga, Iowa. The complete flight train was strung up in the oak trees and the dummy landed in Sam Jordan's farm, 22 hours after it had been launched.

None of the gondola's equipment was seriously damaged.

(From a story appeared in the Fillmore County Journal)

External references

Images of the mission


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