San Antonio, Tex - a 23-yr old airman from Bron embarked to-day on one of the most fantastic voyages in history.
San Antonio, Tex - a 23-yr old airman from Bron embarked to-day on one of the most fantastic voyages in history. Without stirring from his seat in a cramped steel shell anchored to the floor of a laboratory at Randolph Air Force Base, Donald Farrell is to spend this week as if he were alone in space. Isolated from the world completely, in an experimental space cabin developed by the School of Aviation Medicine, he is experiencing conditions that duplicate to a very great extent the ones he would meet in a satellite circling the globe 1,000 miles away or a trip to the moon. If all goes well with him and with his craft he will emerge on Saturday weary but unharmed. The space cabin only one of it's kind anywhere is cunningly designed to make Airman Farrell's ordeal as safe - and also as realistic - as possible. The airpressure inside is half and atmosphere, equal to the natural airpressure at a height of 18,000 feet. Engineers consider that a rocket ship cabin can retain this pressure without bursting in the vacuum of space. Doctors say that a man can get along alright with half his accustomed pressure. But the percentage of life supporting oxygen in the cabin air is twice the normal proportion. So Farrell actually has a much oxygen as he finds in the Texas air at Randolph. As he breaths the waste carbon dioxide which he exhales is absorbed by chemicals. If it accumulated in the cabin he would suffocate. It is replaced by fresh oxygen from the cabin's own self-contained supply. In Space there is no outside air, however, thin to replenish the oxygen consumed by the Flyer. Excess heat given off by Farrell's body in the confined interior is reduced by special climatizing equipment, before it can raise the temperature around him to an intolerable degree. Food is provided just as it would be from the meager stores of a space ship where every ounce of weight is precious. But Farrell's biggest problem is psychological. Can he endure Total isolation for seven days, in a cell no bigger than a small closet without cracking? He has nothing but a clock and his own psychological reactions to tell him the difference between day and night. He has no daily newspaper, no radio, no T.V. , to keep him informed of the events in the outside world. An unexpected disaster could devastate the countryside, and Farrell wouldn't know it. A stout bar of steel secures the hatch that seals him hermatically inside his cubicle. His performance is tested at intervals by an instrument panel that shows him patterns on a radarscope,to be matched against charts he carries with him, and lights which he removes by pressing buttons. The results are scored and recorded on tape for study when he comes out. Instruments fastened to his chest and arms give a continuous report on his condition. Physicians are standing by observing his reactions at all times. Among them "Lt. Col. George R. Steinkamp Chief of the schools Dept. Of space medicine which is conducting the experiment; Capt. Julian E. Ward, the project officer and Capt. Wilard R. Hawkins a graduate resident in Aviation medicine. Psychologist in attendance include Doctor George T. Hawty who designed the test panel. If anything goes wrong with Farrell - or with the cabin - they will swing open the hatch at once, and take him out. The flight for which space medicine personnel have spent weeks preparing, will be aborted. But nothing is expected to go wrong with Farrell. He is a strapping 6-foot., blond youth, carefully selected and prepared for the experiment seemingly sound of mind and body. The son of Mr. & Mrs. James A. Farrell, 513 Commonwealth Av., the Bronx, he was a paper machine operator in Corinth N.Y. before he entered the Airforce. The elder Farrell is an Accountant with Batoks & Co., Wall Street, Brokerage House. Young Farrell's own duty at the school of Aviation Medicine is an accounting clerk in the Comptrollers office. He is unmarried, Exactly nine years ago to-day, Dr. Hubertus Strughold organised the unique department of Space Medicine at the school, to lay the ground work for man exploration of space. It was the internationally known, German born physician who sketched the original plans for sealed cabin which Farrell is giving it's first extended test. Now the advisor for research to the Airforce School, Dr. Strughold watches the experiment with a fatherly eye. Already he is thinking how the results will be applied to the first man vehicle in space.