Yesterday’s jump by Felix Baumgartner was an incredible feat. He jumped from approximately 24 miles up. Space starts at the Karman Line or about 62 miles in altitude. So the jump was not even half way to space or to quote Neil deGrasse Tyson’s tweet from yesterday – “A corresponding fall to a schoolroom globe begins 1 millimeter above its surface. I’m just saying”

What would it take to survive a real jump from space?

There are several requirements for actual space diving. The space suit like Felix’s would have to protect the diver from temperature, no atmosphere, pressures etc. There would need to be some means of heat protection from the reentry phase. If the astronaut was diving from orbit then the friction of orbital speeds would require some sort of heat shield protection.
G-forces would be tremendous on such a diver.

In the 1960’s, under contract from NASA, General Electric proposed the following method called “Operation MOOSE” Orginally MOOSE was the acronym for “Man out of Space; Easiest” but was later changed to “Manned Orbital Operations Safety Equipment”.

MOOSE was strapped to the astronaut’s back and was the size of a small suitcase.
Dimensions were:
0.87 m length
1.8 m diameter
215 kg weight

This proposed method worked in these steps.

  • Astronaut pushes himself away from disabled craft. The MOOSE device is attached to his back and a parachute to his chest.
  • The astronaut pulls a ripcord that starts the MOOSE device inflation of the heat shield and foam activation. The foam fills around the back of the astronauts body and in the heat shield creating a form fit the encapsulates the back of the astronaut.
  • the astronaut uses gas jets to orient for the de-orbit burn
  • solid fuel rockets on the astronauts chest retro fire de-orbiting the astronaut
  • after his ballistic reentry the astronaut would eventually pull his parachute rip cord at about 30000 feet
  • the suit includes survival gear and in case of water landing the foam and remaining heat shield act as a raft

I can’t even imagine the ballistic reentry part. Imagine being encapsulated by flame as your ablative heat shield burns away.

The plan was designed originally for the X-20 Dyna Soar however the plan was abandoned after Dyna Soar was canceled.

But to peak your interest in the future who can remember space diving from Star Trek?

Star Trek Space Diving

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