The 18-story-high weather balloon above was photographed in 1954 while taking off from the University of Minnestoa airport, having the target altitude of 22 miles. The "Super Skyhook" was made by General Mills of polyethylene film, a plastic used by housewives for wrapping carrots. One-third helium-inflated, her 3.2 million cubic feet expanded as she rose, carrying Navy instruments to study cosmic rays. After 13 hours she floated down in pieces, having safely parachuted her instruments and their data.

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images and info provided by the LIFE Magazine / LIFE Magazine International / LIFE Magazine Atlantic ARCHIVE from the Zetu Harrys Collection