Would You Free Fall From 60 Miles in Space?…for Sport?


image Wow! Talk about extreme. I can’t think of anything more extreme than falling from 60 miles up at 2500 miles per hour (unless it’s falling out of orbit from 150 miles up at close to 18,000 miles per hour). This article in Popular Science describes work being done to develop a spacesuit that would allow a person to survive such a fall.

Ostensibly, the suit’s purpose would be to allow astronauts and space travelers to bail out of a doomed ship and survive. But it could also spawn space diving as an extreme sport.

“Forget skydiving. Two entrepreneurs want to sell you space diving. You’ll feel the rush of a 60-mile free fall—and become a guinea pig for the next emergency space suit.”

Of course, there are big obstacles to overcome, like dealing with extreme heat and G-forces. From 60 miles up, your suit will have to withstand 464 degrees Fahrenheit and you’ll endure a sustained 4.4 Gs, meaning that if you weigh 150 pounds, you will weigh 660 pounds as you decelerate. From 150 miles up, your suit alone won’t withstand the 3000 degrees reentry heat–you’ll need a heat shield–and you’ll endure G-forces on the order of 8.2.

Then there’s this little problem:

The least-understood danger comes from transonic speeds—what happens when you cross the sound barrier. Are there shock waves at such speeds that can injure a person, or send him into an unstoppable spin? No one knows because no one has ever gone that fast outside a vehicle.

Do I have any volunteers?

The Geek

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