Discovery Channel Canada TV Special on Pre-Astronaut Heroes - October 18th @ 9pm

From: (Plax)
Date:         14 Oct 2001 12:08:35 -0700
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Considering this newsgroup's interests, I thought you would find news
of this upcoming TV show on Discovery Channel Canada interesting.

- Plax 


Airing October 18th, 2001 at 9:00pm on Discovery Canada
a Secrets of Science special presentation

This Canadian produced one-hour special documents the amazing
accomplishments of Air Force Colonel Dr. John Paul Stapp, along with
his team's pre-NASA explorations of space. Determined to make early
fighter jets safer to fly, Dr. Stapp and his team undertook the
incredible job of devising a parachute that could return a man safely
to earth when deployed from the very edge of space.   Stapp's story,
along with the astronaut who made the 103,000-foot freefall from space
to test the parachute form the core of this exciting special.  Through
in-depth interviews and rare film footage, "SCIENCE HIGHWAY: The
Highest Step in the World" provides never before seen details of a
thrilling chapter in aerospace history.

In the 1950's Air Force Colonel Dr. John Paul Stapp's passion lay in
making recently developed fighter jets safer to fly. Often without
Airforce approval, Colonel Stapp built high-speed rocket sleds, on
which he would hurl himself across the Alamogordo Dessert - pulling
46.2 Gs on his final runs.  The data gathered at these runs led
directly to all subsequent cockpit designs in fighter jets,
spacecraft, and even the seatbelts in your car. In 1955 while exposed
in an open sled, Stapp was the first man to probe the sound barrier at
ground level.  A young pilot named Joe Kittinger was the chase pilot
flying overhead on all of Stapp's high-G speed runs.  Later on
Kittinger would do his own test runs for Stapp - the first pressurized
capsule ride into space, and a free fall from a helium balloon perched
at over 100,000 feet (3 times the height of Mt. Everest) above the

In the late 50s and early 60s, a series of high-altitude test flights
were being conducted at the edge of space. Astronauts would fly helium
balloons more than one-hundred-thousand feet straight up. Predating
NASA and Yuri Gagarin, these men were our first space travellers, in
one case living up there for 36 hours.  These "Pre-Astronauts"
collected valuable data for future spaceflight and made astronomical
observations.  Dr. Stapp and his team saw this as an excellent
opportunity to test a newly developed high-altitude parachute that
could ensure the safety of future astronauts.

On August 16th, 1960 Captain Joe Kittinger Jr. rode a gondola affixed
to a hot air balloon to the very edge of space.  After collecting data
Kittinger took what still stands today as the 'highest step in the
world' and parachuted from over 100,000 feet safely back to earth.  
He free fell for over 4 minutes, and is the only human to break the
sound barrier without the aid of equipment.  Interviews with Kittinger
and Stapp give us an inside view of exactly what happened on that
historic day, along with the team who made this early space trial
possible.   Narrated by Canadian Graham Greene.

If you would like more information on this program, visit the website OR
Please contact:
Donna Schweitzer					Shea Warrington Hayes
Director Publicity and Promotion			Manager Communications
Media Group International				Discovery Channel Canada
(416) 962-5490 ext 2					(416) 332-4222