National Affairs: The 20-Mile Fall

The Air Force's steel-nerved Captain Joseph W. Kittinger Jr. has spent more time up in the atmosphere's cold, thin-aired outer reaches than any man alive. Three years ago, to test body reactions at high altitudes, Kittinger rode a gondola to 96,000 ft. above sea level. Twice he has made record parachute jumps of more than 70,000 ft. Last week red-haired Joe Kittinger, 32, shattered his own marks for both going up and coming down.

Before dawn on the day of his latest and greatest venture into space, he arrived by helicopter at the launching...

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