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Orbital Skydiving
August 20, 2009 3:47 PM   Subscribe

Orbital skydives to follow inflatable heatshield success? "NASA has announced a successful live test of a prototype inflatable heat shield for re-entry to a planet's atmosphere. The blow-up shield could have important implications for future missions to Mars - and also, perhaps, for the nascent field of orbital spacesuit skydiving."
posted by homunculus (27 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was going to make some kind of joke along the lines of "So what? Yesterday I [Even more badass thing]." The problem is that I really can't think of anything more badass than orbital skydiving.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 3:58 PM on August 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


Makes sense - a big bag of gas would provide pretty good insulation as long as you can keep the bag itself from disintegrating. But "Orbital Outfitters"? Will they be selling fixed-gear rockets to space hipsters next?
posted by GuyZero at 3:58 PM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The problem is that I really can't think of anything more badass than orbital skydiving.

1001 posts is pretty badass.
posted by gman at 4:03 PM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I just spent a weekend with my son at the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center. I gotta say...if the purpose of that place is to get folks fired up about the space program, then mission accomplished. He and I are completely pumped about the Ares and Constellation programs. Thanks for posting this - these are the sorts of things I want to be able to follow in the months/years to come.
posted by jquinby at 4:15 PM on August 20, 2009


Imagine the size of the can of Mountain Dew you'd have to slam before doing this. Extreme!
posted by item at 4:19 PM on August 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Deleted Orbital Skydiving Kirk Scene
posted by homunculus at 4:22 PM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


He and I are completely pumped about the Ares and Constellation programs

Start getting prepared for disappointment.

pendantry: just going up doesn't make your trajectory "orbital", though it would appear that falling from 100,000' is almost economically viable as a niche thrill industry, looking about as dangerous as cave diving I guess.
posted by @troy at 4:24 PM on August 20, 2009


I wrote about this before it was cool. Just sayin'.
posted by localroger at 4:38 PM on August 20, 2009


Does anyone else remember a fictional story in Boys Life magazine (or another BSA publication) in the late 80s to mid 90s that featured sky diving from space?

I clearly remember reading a story about this kind of thing one night while sleeping over at a buddy's house, but I haven't been able to track it down since then.

Also, post = awesome.
posted by Science! at 4:49 PM on August 20, 2009


Dayvan Cowboy comes to mind...
posted by schyler523 at 4:50 PM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


We complain out SUV's being wasteful. Do we really want to encourage people to expend orders of magnitude amounts of energy just for a quick thrill? Eh. I suppose it would have to be ungodly expensive anyway.
posted by tkchrist at 4:53 PM on August 20, 2009


SUV's started out as the Nash Quad, a truck with four wheel drive that was adapted to use in WWI (and set the tone for American style mechanized infantry, which was successful in both world wars) and in a more peaceable application as a recreational vehicle, with a body made from the hollowed-out log of a redwood.

Long before they were status symbols, they were practical and essential tools of life in early and middle twentieth century America (and Africa, and Asia, and Russia, as Land Rover and GaZ afficionados can attest.) But before they were that, SUVs were military tools, and dumb publicity stunts.

So shall it be with inflatable heat shields! Access into space will have a replenishing effect, tho, especially in terms of manufacturing and mineral extraction. Make space as easy to get to as a backwoods Maine logging camp, and strip mines and water pollution are a thing of the past.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:29 PM on August 20, 2009


"It's dynamite on paper. Of course the people who came up with the numbers on the paper aren't here."
posted by albrecht at 6:31 PM on August 20, 2009


Yes. Yes I would.
posted by the painkiller at 7:03 PM on August 20, 2009


We complain out SUV's being wasteful. Do we really want to encourage people to expend orders of magnitude amounts of energy just for a quick thrill?

Just talking outta my ass here, but I think the real benefit could be emergency escape from an orbiting vehicle, like pilots with ejection seats.
posted by hypersloth at 8:01 PM on August 20, 2009


Thread useless without the MOOSE.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:06 PM on August 20, 2009


I'm still waiting for some venture capitalists to front me a bot of money to start up the RATO-HALO idea I pitched here back in January of '07.

I'm still calling it the Ultimate in Extreme Sports (which I'll only try after a half dozen of my "customers" have proved it's "safe".)
posted by quin at 10:07 PM on August 20, 2009


From: Severian
To: The Rest of Reality
RE: Atmospheric Reentry Skydiving

I have this opinion about skydiving in general; not on your life. In regards to your suggestions that I try ARS I have this to say...

Oh, FUCK no!
posted by Severian at 10:19 PM on August 20, 2009


I just realized that if I just add an "Extreme" to the end of Atmospheric Reentry Skydiving I could have said:

"Oh go and fuck your arse!"
posted by Severian at 10:22 PM on August 20, 2009


We gotta prepare to stop those Romulans.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 1:41 AM on August 21, 2009


1001 posts is pretty badass.

No kidding. I feel like I should send one of my five dollars directly to homunculus.
posted by rokusan at 3:30 AM on August 21, 2009


Well, now I guess we're ready to field drop troops against the Imperium when the First Interstellar War starts.
posted by moonbiter at 4:19 AM on August 21, 2009


ObMeFite: cstross has it covered. Stratospheric skyboarding as sport in the Wodehouse-esque Trunk and Disorderly.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 8:04 AM on August 21, 2009


Dayvan Cowboy comes to mind...

Better yet, the real-life story behind that video's initial footage: Captain Joseph W. Kittinger Jr.’s jump from over 100,000 feet as part of the Air Force’s Project Excelsior. He rode the balloon up for an hour and a half; the trip down took fourteen minutes.

You want bad-ass? "As the atmosphere thinned out, he noticed that one of his pressure gloves wasn't working right, was cutting off circulation and causing his hand to swell. Being Joe Kittinger, he did not mention that detail in his radio reports to the ground until it was too late for the medical team to order him down without completing his mission." Sure, he might lose a hand, but hey, it was worth it to get to fall for some nineteen miles.
posted by sgranade at 8:40 AM on August 21, 2009


Well, now I guess we're ready to field drop troops against the Imperium when the First Interstellar War starts.

Yeah, we only need Jump Drives and a short trip to Bernard's Star. Ziru Sirka, watch out!
posted by GuyZero at 9:38 AM on August 21, 2009


ODST!
posted by roygbv at 10:46 AM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can envision no future scenario in which I don't wind up doing this.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:43 PM on August 21, 2009


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