Skydiving from space

A space chief is calling for astronauts to make the ultimate skydive – a 250 mile plunge to Earth from orbit.
Richard Speck says the daring dive is the perfect way to send humans to the final frontier and back without the need for a costly spaceship.
Instead their special spacesuits would incorporate life-support systems, a heat shield to stop them from burning up, and a parachute.
Speck is president of Micro-Space Inc, of Denver, Colorado, one of the private rocket companies competing to run private flights into space and later to the Moon and Mars.
He says each astronaut would launch in a protective shroud rather than a spaceship, atop an ultra-light rocket that burns only as much fuel as the average family car in a year.
At a height of around 30 miles, the shroud would be ejected.
Speck tells spaceflight thinktank The Space Review: “Feeling as naked as a skier on a sky-high chair lift, you continue to accelerate.
“You have steady life support, are lashed into the acceleration seat in front of your reentry heat shield and have solid radio communication.”
Astronauts would use SatNav systems and tiny rocket jets to steer them to their space station targets, Speck says. Docking woould be as simple as putting your car in a garage.
He adds: “Forget exotic artist’s conceptions. This will largely be a combination of Scuba-type gear, high-altitude mountaineering, and skydiving.”
A two-yard wide plastic dish would protect each astronaut during re-entry, says Speck, who argues that humans are tougher than satellites.
“Yes, you will land with a parachute, like thousands do for fun every weekend. Yes, you will need extensive training. Yes, there are risks.”
But, he adds: “You’ll be returning from the trip of a lifetime.”

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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