Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Space Diving

You go girl! The close-fitting Spacesuit shows that this is a woman. The booster is based upon Armadillo Aerospace designs. This video depicts suborbital diving. There is no life-support backpack, so this is a short trip. She is shown breaking the sound barrier, like Major Joseph Kittinger in 1960.

Kittinger (2-minute video below) jumped from a balloon at 102,000 feet, a freefall record which still stands. At 43,000 feet he noticed that his glove had depressurised. Like Chuck Yeager, Kittinger neglected to tell the ground about his right side. The mission would have been scrubbed and Kittinger confined to the hospital. The hand swelled to twice its normal size and Kittinger was in pain up and down.

Human skin is airtight, and forms a natural Spacesuit. If exposed to vacuum, the body will swell from internal pressure like Kittinger’s hand. Increasing volume leads to decreasing internal pressure and decompression sickness (the bends.) A human can survive a small portions of the skin exposed to vacuum. After landing, Kittinger’s hand was back to normal in a few hours.

Our skintight suit is made of materials that behave like elastic. Direct pressure from the suit, rather than air, protects the wearer from vacuum. This allows us to build a suit that is lighter, more flexible and comfortable. A hole in the suit would cause swelling directly beneath the hole until blood clotting naturally sealed the breach. In other words, you would just get a big zit. If an astronaut developed a hole in one of today’s suits, he would get a high school named for him.

The skintight suit is a reality that Space organizations are interested in. If not via Armadillo, perhaps we could launch from a modified Spaceship Two. The practical benefits include quick emergency evacuation from a Space station. Crewmembers carrying small payloads could also be boosted directly into orbit like Iron Man. Space Diving will be a reality someday soon.



Blogger qraal said...

Hi Louise

Jumping to land on Titan should be a snap from orbital speeds - it's only 1522 m/s in a 1200 km orbit, though faster on a descending orbit into deeper parts of the atmosphere. Now that'd be an incredible jump from 1200 km. But how to manage the initial re-entry heating? Imagine a "surf-board" shaped as a hypersonic Waverider, so you could stand on the back in the still patch of air that a Waverider's flow forms.

6:57 PM  
Blogger Buzz Ryan said...

I realize I am making this comment two years after this post, but I have only jusst recently discovered your fantastic blog!

I am a spacesuit geek by nature and a parachute rigger by trade and this video is womederfull especially in light of recent events. Red Bull is sponsering the attempt fit major Kittingers record with their own Red Bull Stratos team. I provide you with the following link.


I wish you the best,

Buzz Ryan

3:02 PM  
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