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“Deadlies” Nominee: Inflatable Space Pod

Nominated by Richard R.
The Deadlies,” our contest to find the most insanely-dangerous gear of all time, is well under way. A bunch of folks have already posted their nominees. They’re all brilliant. Take MOOSE (“Man Out of Space Easiest”), General Electric’s one-man, orbital escape pod from the 1960’s.

To use it, an astronaut first would don a spacesuit and remove the 200-pound packaged escape system from a large suitcase-sized container aboard the spacecraft.
Then the person would unfold a 6-foot-long bag made of clear Mylar plastic and step into one end of it.
Attached and bonded to the rear of the bag was an ablative heat shield about one-quarter inch (6.3 millimeters) thick. Inside the bag were two canisters of white polyurethane foam, a portable rocket motor with twin exhaust nozzles that protruded through the Mylar cover, a parachute, radio equipment and a survival kit.
Once inside the bag, the astronaut would don a harness, zip the bag closed and float out the hatch of the spacecraft.
Out in space the astronaut would activate the foam canisters, which would inflate the bag into the shape of a blunt cone within a few minutes.
Then the astronaut would orient the bag with the rocket motor so that the blunt end faced towards Earth. That way, atmospheric heat upon reentry would char only the heat shield.

Riiiiight. As Space​.com observes, “corporate brochures touting MOOSE did not focus on the question of whether a person could withstand the mental and physiological shock of an untethered jump into space and a free fall of hundreds of miles (kilometers) back to Earth.”

Perhaps the engineers gained confidence from U.S. Air Force Capt. Joe Kittinger who made a couple of towering leaps from open-balloon gondolas during the late 1950s and early 1960s.
In one high-altitude test in August 1960, Kittinger jumped from a height of nearly 103,000 feet (31,395 meters) and free fell for more than four and a half minutes before his parachute opened. Kittinger even surpassed the speed of sound the only human to do so without using an aircraft or space vehicle — yet survived his 20-mile (32-kilometer) fall in remarkably good shape.
The reasoning followed that if one man survived such a drop, then others could as well from even higher altitudes.

Got a “Deadlies” candidate? Speak up!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Cranky Observer November 20, 2006 at 11:33 am

Google “wingsuit” some time, watch the videos, and tell me that those guys would turn down a chance to try a freefall jump from orbit.
The line to get on board the jump ship would be a kilometer long.


bespoke November 20, 2006 at 1:58 pm

Exactly, Cranky.
There are enough *EXTREME* people out there that certainly some of them would be willing to do the ultimate sky, er, space, dive.
As from Aliens:
Hudson: We’re on an express elevator to hell - going down!


MD November 20, 2006 at 2:28 pm

LOL… looks like an instructional brochure for, “How to bake humans like a potato”…


Brian November 20, 2006 at 3:26 pm

I think I saw this once on Dragonball Z.


mike November 20, 2006 at 4:43 pm

Damn straight.
Four weeks training at Star City, $40,000.
24 hours in Vegas, $5000.
Chance of becoming a crispy critter, say three in five.
Being able to say for the rest of your life that you did a freefall jump FROM ORBIT- priceless.


Rick Tumlinson November 20, 2006 at 6:35 pm

Regarding return from orbit without a spacecraft.
Today’s “That’s crazy! Is tomorrow’s “I wish I had thought of that.”
Not in reference to the Moose design, but to the concept;
This is not only doable, but is going to be done.
The idea is being worked on again by a serious and credentialed team. Agreements are being signed, rides put together, research is underway - all very Real.
Expect the first “Space Dive” (trademark) in early 2008. Altitude (not “space” at first) above 120k feet. To be followed by incremental increases - yes, all the way to orbit.
Investors and sponsors are being sought.
Stay tuned.
Rick Tumlinson
(my bio is findable)


Brian November 21, 2006 at 12:40 pm

Project Pluto was the radioactive bomber plan. I believe they were supposed to fly over the North Pole, thus eliminating the worry of irradiating your neighbors.
But poor Santa Claus…


Maj. Michael Stack USAF (Ret.) March 28, 2008 at 12:30 am

And one must think that the stress of leaving a disabled spacecraft is any more stressful than riding it into orbit in the first place?
The parachute seemed rather risky in its infancy also. It developed over time, but the parachutes of today area far cry from the bags stuffed with a canopy and lines attached to the fuselage of Fokker DVIIs.
And given a choice of burning to death in a canvas coffin or jumping, I think I’ll risk the jump.
I don’t see the device under ridicule as any more dangerous or less practical then its predecessor, the WWI aircraft escape system.


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