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The Ultimate Thrill...


Would you do this?  

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  1. 1. Would you do this?

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For sport or safety, hurtling to Earth from space without the protective shroud of a heavily engineered space vehicle seems like sheer lunacy—a hellish descent punctuated by intense heat and terminal, well . . . splatter. But believe it or not, the physics actually works out. With a heat-resistant space suit and the right kind of chutes, such a daredevil plunge should indeed be possible. And with the right people involved, it edges into the realm of the probable.


Two veterans of the space industry are working to make the idea real. While the rest of today’s space-bound private enterprises—Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, XCOR Aerospace, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin—are fixated on getting humans to space, a company called Orbital Outfitters is working on an innovative way of bringing them back, whether it’s done purely as a sport or as an emergency backup plan in case things go awry. Rick Tumlinson, a longtime civilian space booster who founded the Space Frontier Foundation and helped launch the X Prize Foundation, and Jonathan Clark, a former NASA flight surgeon who has a unique understanding of the extremes of spaceflight survival—his wife, astronaut Laurel Clark, perished in the space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003—have begun to develop the equipment needed to return you from the heavens without a vehicle.



Together, the two plan to demonstrate a record-breaking 120,000-foot jump by 2009, and the truly unprecedented 60-mile space dive within two years—an audacious timetable. If all goes well, they’ll reach even higher. “Our ultimate goal,” Tumlinson says, “is to have individual human beings return from orbit alive.” That’s a drop from 150 miles—or more—involving increased heat and near-deadly Gs, essentially turning their divers into human meteorites.


Even that’s survivable, says NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Robert Manning, who designs reentry systems for unmanned craft. Given the right protection—including thermal protection, oxygen, an aerodynamic heat shield and a control system—Manning says, a human being could, theoretically, fall to Earth from any height and survive. The question is whether Tumlinson and Clark can turn theory into fact, and whether anybody would be crazy enough to give their thrill ride a try.


reference: http://www.popsci.com/popsci/aviationspace/3c082d2daa463110vgnvcm1000004eecbccdrcrd.html




Would you give this a go?

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The day they actually pull that off, I'll be out in a boat in a lake, deep within some brush with my shotty, waiting to shoot down some good ham and bacon.


2009? I find that really hard to believe. It just blows my mind what we waste our money on...

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Ok so if this is tested and I see enough people go and survive, I'd do this for sure! I've been skydiving before so I'd probably do this if its safe. I mean there is always risk with anything we do, but I'd be up for it.

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Somehow, my family gets PopSci every month for free, so I read this a little while ago.


I asked my mother what guarantees that you'll fall to Earth, because there's no gravity in space...she agreed, and asked me what's to keep you from landing on Uranus.


She got a kick out of that one.

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