Space diving

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Kittinger leaps from his helium balloon at 102,800 ft (31,300 m).

Like skydiving, space diving refers to the act of jumping from an aircraft or spacecraft in outer space and falling to Earth's atmosphere before parachuting to a landing. The Kármán line is the internationally accepted definition as to where space begins at 100 km (62 mi) above sea level. This definition is accepted by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), which is an international standard setting and record-keeping body for aeronautics and astronautics. The United States Airforce uses 80 km (50 mi) to award astronaut wings. [1]

Three successful space dives from the stratosphere have been completed to date: Joseph Kittinger—from 102,000 feet (31 km)—in 1960, Felix Baumgartner—from 128,000 feet (39 km)—in 2012, and Alan Eustace—from 135,908 feet (41.425 km)—in 2014.[2]

Higher jumps from the mesosphere or thermosphere have yet to be successfully performed, though Orbital Outfitters is working to create a suit that will enable safe space diving. Space diving from beyond the stratosphere was first imagined in 1934, appearing in E.E. "Doc" Smith's science fiction novel Triplanetary.[3]

History[edit]

The first stratospheric space dive was in 1960 when Colonel Joseph William Kittinger II (born July 27, 1928 in Tampa, Florida, United States) a former command pilot, career military officer and retired Colonel in the United States Air Force dived from a high-altitude balloon. He participated in Project Excelsior, testing the effects on pilots of ejecting at high altitude and in 1960 set a record for the longest skydive, from a height greater than 102,000 feet (31 km).[4]

In 2012, Felix Baumgartner broke Kittinger's record when on October 14 he jumped from over 128,000 ft (39 km).[5][6]

In 2013, NewSpace company Solar System Express announced development of a new space diving suit. The RL Mark VI Space Diving suit will include "augmented reality goggles, power gloves, control moment gyros, and a low-cost commercial space suit.[7] A test article of the suit will be initially tested at 40,000 feet (12,000 m) altitude.[8]

Challenges to safe space diving[edit]

Comparison of approximate altitudes of successful stratospheric jumps and various objects with a graph of International Standard Atmosphere temperature and pressure.

There are several technical requirements and challenges to the possibility of space jumping. These requirements would be somewhat eased when entering the atmosphere from a simple drop, where the heat of reentry would be considerably less than that of reentering from orbit.[9] Parachutes would require increased strength to slow the higher weights associated with the added equipment.[10] NASA is known to have investigated the concept in case of an emergency situation on the shuttle where alternative methods of reentry are not available — however, such planning has not moved beyond the conceptual stage given the high energies involved in reentry from orbital speeds.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Speed Weed (2007-06-25). "High dive - Space diving". Popular Science. New York: Bonnier Corporation. Archived from the original on 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  2. ^ "Google exec sets records with leap from near-space". seattlepi.com (Seattle). 2014-10-24. Retrieved 2014-10-24. 
  3. ^ Christensen, Bill (2007-08-03). "Space Diving by 2011?". Space.com (New York). Archived from the original on 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  4. ^ Mission to the edge of Space — Red Bull Stratos — Trailer
  5. ^ The Canadian Press (2012-10-09). "Supersonic skydive cancelled due to high winds". CBC News (Toronto). Archived from the original on 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  6. ^ Amos, Jonathan (2012-10-14). "Skydiver Felix Baumgartner lands highest ever jump". BBC News (London). Archived from the original on 2012-10-14. 
  7. ^ Atkins, Ron (2013-05-22). "Revolutionary New Space-Diving Suit Will Rival Anything You’ve Ever Seen In The Movies". Universe Today. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  8. ^ RL Mark VI product overview
  9. ^ In the 2009 film Star Trek, a scene depicts James T. Kirk, Hikaru Sulu and Chief Engineer Olson performing an act of space diving. The scene showed the safest distance to their intended target for parachuting was limited down to 3000 metres. Olson tried to use his chute at 1000 metres, which resulted in him being killed in action. Hsu, Jeremy (2012-10-04). "Why Can't You Go Space Diving Yet?". Space.com (New York). Archived from the original on 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  10. ^ The Kármán line is the internationally accepted definition as to where space begins at 100 km (62 mi) above sea level. This definition is accepted by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), which is an international standard setting and record-keeping body for aeronautics and astronautics. The United States Airforce uses 80 km (50 mi) to award astronaut wings. Speed Weed (2007-06-25). "High dive - Space diving". Popular Science. New York: Bonnier Corporation. Archived from the original on 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 

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