Rocket (Wo)man!
November 4, 2000 6:08 AM   Subscribe

Rocket (Wo)man! Jumping out of an airplane is one thing I'd never do. But jumping out of a balloon in sub-orbital space...nope, don't think I'd do that either.
posted by thc (9 comments total)
The thud heard 'round the world. Man, if she screws up and digs a hole (as even her former teacher thinks she may) I hope she doesn't land on anything important. ('Course, she's aiming for Texas, so that's not likely).
Just in case, though, I'm bookmarking the page for convient submission to The Darwin Awards.
posted by Optamystic at 1:22 PM on November 4, 2000

If she fails, it won't be due to lack of preparation.

I fantasized about doing something like this for years. Of course I've never even gone bungee jumping, much less skydiving, so it was mere fantasy... but I'm tickled to see someone's actually trying it.

posted by Mars Saxman at 1:40 PM on November 4, 2000

I once saw a video of the 60s version of this (there was a camera attached to the parachute) and from a 100,000 feet, the curvature of the earth is plainly visible. It looked super freaky and I still can't imagine what would be simultaneously as cool and as terrifying as this. He fell for an hour and half or something like that ...
posted by sylloge at 4:09 PM on November 4, 2000

Here's a link to the 1960 102,000 ft. dive by Joe Kittinger. (I think I was more than a little off in the descent time.) Only the cover pic though — if anyone else can find pics, post them here.
posted by sylloge at 4:24 PM on November 4, 2000

The scary part is that the first, oh, 80,000 feet or so, there's practically no atmospheric drag. Still, it's basically similar to a HALO jump, which has become a standard special-ops training technique.
posted by dhartung at 9:47 PM on November 4, 2000

This article has been hot on Slashdot, spawning many threads full of people speculating that she'll burn up on re-entry. Sigh. Apparently they haven't read the whole article, which points out that she is not going to be re-entering the atmosphere from orbital velocity.

As a skydiver, I'd expect the main physical challenge would be remaining stable when there is little drag to work the body against. For a jumper, even exiting a balloon or helicopter at conventional altitudes is weird because it takes a few moments to accelerate enough to have control.
posted by Tubes at 9:35 AM on November 6, 2000

What I think a few people don't realize is that she is going to be free falling from that height, not parachuting. She probably won't pull the cord until about 10,000 feet or less.

I'd do something like this in a instant... if I knew how.
posted by Starchile at 9:47 AM on November 6, 2000

"I'd do something like this in a instant... if I knew how." - Starchile

Here's how you start!

a. Find your nearest USPA dropzone.

b. Make your first jump. Get hooked.

c. Years and thousands of jumps and boatloads of money later, look up Cheryl Stearns and ask to borrow her spacesuit & balloon...

posted by Tubes at 10:12 AM on November 6, 2000

I went looking for images of Kittinger's jump based on Stewart's request above. Didn't find many, but I did find out lots about Joe Kittinger. What an amazing guy. Take Chuck Yeager, only without Tom Wolfe to make him a celebrity, and add balloons.
posted by rodii at 10:43 AM on November 6, 2000

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