The guy on the right will, at worse, land like a pancake, get up, turn into an accordian or something and walk off-screen, good as new for the next scene.
Just imagine if Felix’s parachute didn’t open, but he came down on telegraph wires. He would have just bounced back to the balloon, and could have gotten back in. Cool.
…and it makes that springy sound, right?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a foley. I blame Ben Burtt — the guy looked like he was waving way too much fun on the Ranch…
Correct me on this, but Felix Baumgartner appears to have made his very dangerous but successfully executed supersonic sky dive largely on sky diving skill rather than some push-button tech.
The big problem with supersonic, no, make then a hypersonic sky dive inasmuch as he was transiting thin parts of the atmosphere without effective aerodynamic response, the big problem is entering an unrecoverable flat spin. This was a problem with many of the X-planes and also a problem in Kittinger’s jumps. There was tech in the form of ballutes or drogues to control this, and Baumgartner apparently had such a thing “in reserve.”
Some commentator viewing the video said their was a scary moment where he started tumbling, but we soon corrected that.
So apart from the fancy full-pressure suit, Felix Baumgartner appears to have conducted a sky dive from extreme altitude and through the sound barrier, pretty much on sky diving skill, and for that he is to be commended as a discoverer and explorer.
No, Paul it was superluminal.
Hypersonic means greater than Mach 5. His jump is estimated to have hit Mach 1.24 (roughly the top speed of the F-100 Super Saber and T-38 Talon). That’s a long way from hypersonic but still damed fast!
Felix did have a drogue chute as a backup but didn’t need to use it. The spin (not tumble) he entered was very dangerous but he managed to get under control when he fell into denser air. The high tech aspects were mostly in his pressure suit. It had to maintain adequate pressure on his body while being flexible enough for his to control his skydive. As far as I can tell, no previous pressure suit would’ve allowed him sufficient flexibility.
One of the doctors involved in the jump lost his wife in the Columbia accident. His motivation is to help develop technologies that would increase an astronaut’s chances of surviving a similar accident. This jump is a step in that direction.
The X-15 and SR-71 had ejection seats. In the case of the X-15, the plan was to ride the plane down to a lower altitude and let it slow somewhat before attempting to eject. It was never tried even in the case where the pilot lost control at high altitude. He was killed. There was at least one successful SR-71 case where a pilot survived a breakup at Mach 3+ (he didn’t eject and his RSO was killed). Due to the thin air, that was around 400 knots equivalent airspeed (KEAS). Supersonic ejection in thicker air is seldom survivable and almost never without severe injuries.
To survive a reentry accident, I’d guess you’d need something like the ejection pods used in the B-58 Hustler, the ejection capsules like on the F-111 or B-1A, or MOOSE. You’d want some form of drogue for stability, too.
This jump was made from a capsule under a stationary balloon. It may have been dangerous, but not like bailing out of a supersonic aircraft or reentry vehicle. He was supersonic in very, very thin air. I’d look up Project ManHigh and Project Excelsior for some similar (but slightly lower) jumps in the late 50s and early 60s. I’ll bet the view was pretty cool .
I believe the Soviets designed an ejector seat for the MIG-25 that they claimed was effective at MACH 2.5. A plate would swing up from below and take the brunt of the supersonic airflow to protect the pilots face and neck.
It was an amazing jump, but what we need is something a single unconscious person can use to get to the surface safely from orbit. I’m thinking big beach ball.
Orbital escape systems have been proposed. Some derived from a proven B-58 bomber system and others perhaps a bit more fantastical using foam that expanded to encapsulate the astronaut for re-entry. The paracone was another interesting concept that didn’t even involve a parachute.
Felix’s jump was probably a bit more extreme than re-entry regarding the rate at which the air thickened, since he was coming straight down instead of at a very shallow angle where he could generate a significant lift component to slow his descent rate while still in thin air. I haven’t run the numbers on it, though.
So this jump was from 24 miles up. I wonder what a jump form 50 or 100 miles up might involve, if it is possible at all? Presumably such a jumper might reach a few thousands of miles per hour. Could a drogue stabilize freefall? Does heating from atmospheric friction become an issue? Would one slow to terminal velocity in time to release the main chute?
This would be an interesting experiment to carry out on sub-orbital flights, even if done with test dummies. If the dummies can “survive”, perhaps someone would have the guts to try it for real.
If you flew a ballistic suborbital flight to the altitudes you propose, the air would be so thin that ordinary skydiving techniques wouldn’t allow you to control yourself. Instead, you’d be better off with the equivalent of SS1′s shuttlecock mode. An inflatable heat shield like the ones they’ve been testing in recent years would probably be your best bet. SS1 got pretty hot on the way down and so would a jumper. An inflatable heat shield would both provide protection against the heat and also stability. It could also keep the velocity within reasonable limits.
If that idea was tested on suborbital flights, it might also be usable on faster reentries from orbital flights. A B-58 style ejection capsule would likely be safer but much heavier.
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