April 23, 2010
Six weeks before Sputnik 1 ushered in the Space Age, and four years before Yuri Gagarin’s Vostok 1 flight, an adventurous young biomedical researcher named David Simons climbed to the edge of space inside a pressurized capsule, as part of a project called Manhigh. As we wrote in an article published in 2000, Simons was the first man in history to watch the sun rise and set from above the atmosphere.
When he took a break from work and just sat there munching sandwiches and chocolate bars in his tiny capsule 20 miles up, he turned reflective. Later, in his official pilot’s report, he wrote: “It seemed right that I should be going toward space, as if that was where I belonged. In this sense I experienced a separation of emotional ties and interests from the earth below and felt an identification with the void of space above.”
Simons died on April 5 at his home in Covington, Georgia at the age of 87.
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