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June 27, 2007

Be your own spaceship

image of re-entry suit from Popular Science magazine

Over the decades I've known him, my good friend Dr. Foo has come up with more great plot ideas than a whole Hollywood Starbucks full of script writers. More than 20 years ago he had the idea of a new extreme sport for the ultra-rich... you go into orbit on the shuttle, don a space suit, hop out for a little bit of EVA, then strap a heat shield on your feet, fire the retro-rockets strapped to your back, plunge through the atmosphere, pop your parachute, and drop softly back into your back yard.

Now dammed if someone isn't thinking about doing it for real. Or at least something close to it. An article in the new issue of Popular Science lays out current work being done in the area. One company thinks they'll be able to offer sub-orbital parachute re-entry from 60 miles up within a couple of years, and at least one JPL engineer says there's no reason you couldn't design a spacesuit and personal heat shield that would allow a human to fall back all the way from full earth orbit.

Read the full article online right here.

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at June 27, 2007 04:49 PM