Approved | | Drama
Scientist is sent to investigate a faulty ejector seat, then sent into space to test it, showing an assortment of human weaknesses and strengths. Basically this is about the human predicament and drama, not space.
Balloons were flown to extreme altitudes in Projects Manhigh and Excelsior, starting shortly after the film debuted. In the latter, then-Captain Joe Kittinger successfully completed a jump of 103,000 feet, free-falling for more than 4 minutes with only a small drogue chute, something similar to a kite's tail, to prevent him from spinning. Despite suffering severe bruising from the extreme low pressure trauma experienced at that altitude (similar to "sea" level on Mars), and frostbite from the extreme cold (almost 100F below zero) Kittinger was none the worse for his dangerous adventure.
When Maj. Ward Thomas is getting ready to make the sled run, the range officer says "2 minutes - on my mark, 2 minutes". At that point, the ground crew is still strapping the Major in the sled - they spend about 5 more minutes preparing the Major and the sled. Then the countdown starts at 30 seconds...