Retired Lt. Col. David G. Simons, a physician and researcher who reached nearly 102,000 feet during 1957 balloon flight on Project Manhigh II to study the effects of high-altitude flight, died April 5 at age 87. His work helped pave the way for manned spaceflight. Simons sat in a small capsule attached to a balloon for more than 32 hours during the record 101,516 feet flight, for which he was featured on the cover of Life magazine. For Manhigh I, then-Capt. Joseph Kittinger reached 97,000 feet on June 2, 1957, and, on Oct. 8, 1958, Lt. Clifton McClure reached 98,850 feet for Manhigh III. Shortly after entering the Air Force in 1947, Simons served as project officer for animal studies on V-2 rocket flights. He was inducted into the New Mexico International Space Hall of Fame in 1987. (See New York Times report; The Covington News report; New Mexico Museum of Space History article; National Museum of the US Air Force Manhigh fact sheet)
Reports of production troubles on the SpaceX rocket that could contend for military cargo deliveries happened to coincide with a different company’s concept receiving an early nod—one that might not require a rocket at all.