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(Popular Mechanics)   One small problem if we sanction Russia: They're the USA's only ride into space   (popularmechanics.com) divider line 51
    More: Interesting, Russia, Russian Soyuz, International Space Station, human spaceflight programs, U.S., individual mandate, Space Launch System, Russian Federal Space Agency  
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923 clicks; posted to Geek » on 05 Mar 2014 at 7:20 AM (23 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



51 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2014-03-05 06:34:48 AM
Not to worry. Americans don't need to go to space anymore. Russia can have our sloppy seconds up there.
 
2014-03-05 06:57:28 AM
It's not a problem if you don't care
 
2014-03-05 07:25:41 AM
Congratulations, America. We spend more on boner pills and dubious statins than on space.

Just as well. A human colony on a remote body would never make a profit for the investors on earth.
 
2014-03-05 07:27:15 AM
Not just ride in to space, but ride back as well. There's a couple of Americans up there right now who might be in need of some sort of carpool arrangement.
 
2014-03-05 07:31:50 AM

wildcardjack: Congratulations, America. We spend more on boner pills and dubious statins than on space.

Just as well. A human colony on a remote body would never make a profit for the investors on earth.


You can't say that until we test boner pills in space.
 
2014-03-05 07:35:03 AM

wildcardjack: Congratulations, America. We spend more on boner pills and dubious statins than on space.

Just as well. A human colony on a remote body would never make a profit for the investors on earth.


"You ivory tower intellectuals must not lose touch with the world of industrial growth and hard currency. It is all very well and good to pursue these high-minded scientific theories, but research grants are expensive. You must justify your existence by providing not only knowledge but concrete and profitable applications as well. "
- Nwabudike Morgan, "The Ethics of Greed"


They might find a prophet...
 
2014-03-05 07:44:06 AM
Gee, whatever will we do?

/not like we could just build our own
//peppridge fahm remembahs.
 
2014-03-05 07:46:46 AM
It's not like we don't know how to build a way to get into space if we need to.  Maybe war with russia would actually reinvigorate the US Space program.

I'm fairly cynical about the space program, not as much as that one guy, but it's just not the priority it use to be.
 
2014-03-05 07:50:23 AM
I for one welcome the idea of a non military cold war.

Let's pump all that money Chuck Hagel wants to save us into NASA!

www.quickmeme.com
 
2014-03-05 07:55:34 AM

Mr. Oizo: Not just ride in to space, but ride back as well. There's a couple of Americans up there right now who might be in need of some sort of carpool arrangement.


Not completely true.  Last year that guy jumped from space and parachuted down.
 
2014-03-05 07:59:09 AM
Yeah, so NASA doesn't have some overpriced shuttle anymore, Isn't SpaceX is going into launching people up this year or next? Yeah, let's just ignore all that cause we need to write an article.
 
2014-03-05 08:02:12 AM
I'm not saying the shuttle program didn't deserve to die.  I'm just saying that maybe you have a better back up plan than hitching a ride with a major world power/opponent that you often side against in world politics.
 
2014-03-05 08:09:13 AM
Wait, what? We didn't second source that sh#t?

Bob in procurement is going to get his a$$ fired.
 
2014-03-05 08:18:59 AM
Actually, if it came down to it, we could probably man-rate the Dragon spacecraft from SpaceX rather quickly, because pretty much all the development is done already and it has already flown (unmanned) to the ISS, at least until the Orion spacecraft comes on line.
 
2014-03-05 08:20:49 AM
Not space...SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE!!!
 
2014-03-05 08:20:56 AM
No, they aren't.

img.fark.net


/They aren't even the best option anymore.
/Put some heat under the program and we'll have like three more options in the next year.
 
2014-03-05 08:26:04 AM

Mr. Oizo: Not just ride in to space, but ride back as well. There's a couple of Americans up there right now who might be in need of some sort of carpool arrangement.


I understand there are two Soyuz capsules already docked with the ISS. It's part of the emergency planning that there is always enough "lifeboat" space for everybody on the space station.
 
2014-03-05 08:29:58 AM
texasgopvote.com

/maybe the Nobel Peace Prize has suborbital capabilities we aren't aware of.
 
2014-03-05 08:39:22 AM
Thanks Obama!
 
2014-03-05 08:42:28 AM

LoneDoggie: [texasgopvote.com image 203x385]

/maybe the Nobel Peace Prize has suborbital capabilities we aren't aware of.


Much as I'm no fan of the man, this is a situation long in the making.

Personally, I would be well chuffed if the Russians locked us out.
I hope they evict us, take our keys, change the locks, and send all our astronauts home on the slowest fishing boat they can find.
I greatly desire this because it would be a terrible and public rebuke for the idiots who thought we could trust someone else to give us a ride to a hundred billion dollar outpost. It would make voters realize that the home ground capability for science and exploration is still important, and it can't be shoved to a back burner by renting time on other peoples rockets.
Maybe it would make them give NASA a budget hike for a change, so it wouldn't have to pick its favorite children for survival (RIP, SOFIA).

/Of course the Russians know what the consequences would be, so they'd never do this.
/Keeping us dependent means they always have the upper hand.
 
2014-03-05 08:42:48 AM

way south: No, they aren't.

[img.fark.net image 850x565]


/They aren't even the best option anymore.
/Put some heat under the program and we'll have like three more options in the next year.


This - I have been wondering what the hold up has been, but from what I've read, SpaceX is looking to do human launches in 2017. They plan on testing the new ship this year.
 
2014-03-05 08:43:02 AM

Chris Ween: I'm not saying the shuttle program didn't deserve to die.  I'm just saying that maybe you have a better back up plan than hitching a ride with a major world power/opponent that you often side against in world politics.


Unfortunately it doesn't work that way - if the shuttle was still alive today, there would be less money available for development of next-generation rockets, and the CRS/COTS, and CCDev/CCiCap programs which are all actively developing American crew and cargo transportation to space, and are probably about 3 years out from flying people from American soil again.  I think that these programs are doing much more for the space program than people give them credit for just because they cant "see" the effects yet (essentially because they haven't transported a human to space yet), and, in my opinion, are a lot more valuable to NASA than the shuttle was in it's latter years.  That being said, I know how space enthusiasts (myself included) would like things to go, and yes, it is essentially the very logical route that you have outlined.  Given the state of the politics involved with funding NASA programs, though, you have to put pressure NASA and Congress (because lets not forget, they write the check) to do anything different, and the best way is direct slap in the face - otherwise it would have just been more next-gen vaporware featured in Popular Science which would replace the shuttles "within 10 years" and which would be abruptly cancelled with the next administration, rinsed and repeated for an additional 30 years.

NASA needed to be visibly shaken up for the general public to start paying attention - taking away their symbol for the last three decades and giving the business to Russia was the best way to do it.
 
2014-03-05 08:43:12 AM

Muta: Mr. Oizo: Not just ride in to space, but ride back as well. There's a couple of Americans up there right now who might be in need of some sort of carpool arrangement.

Not completely true.  Last year that guy jumped from space and parachuted down.


I hope your kidding, he was floating in a balloon with 0 relative surface velocity. Do you have any idea the speeds that the ISS is orbiting at? We don't have a suit that would survive re-entry at orbital velocities.


Oizo: There have been a few Japanese astronauts to the ISS as well, unfortunately they also hitched a ride with Russia. Maybe if our guys dressed up as Otakus they could get a ride to Japan.
 
2014-03-05 08:45:36 AM
SPACEX YOU DUMBASSES, WE HAVE OTHER WAYS OF GETTING TO THE STATION
 
2014-03-05 08:46:02 AM

way south: No, they aren't.

[img.fark.net image 850x565]


/They aren't even the best option anymore.
/Put some heat under the program and we'll have like three more options in the next year.


I'm guessing they'd prefer the astronauts to still be alive when they get to, and back from, the station. As of a couple of months ago the plan for human-transport capsules was for initial testing to begin this year with two unmanned test flights. The program isn't scheduled to be ready until 2017. It would take a big increase in funding to progress quicker but, in any case, the safety track record for rushed launches isn't great.
 
2014-03-05 08:50:02 AM

way south: No, they aren't.

[img.fark.net image 850x565]


/They aren't even the best option anymore.
/Put some heat under the program and we'll have like three more options in the next year.


Is the Dragon suitable for human reentry?
If not, then you fail.
 
2014-03-05 08:56:45 AM

HotIgneous Intruder: way south: No, they aren't.

[img.fark.net image 850x565]


/They aren't even the best option anymore.
/Put some heat under the program and we'll have like three more options in the next year.

Is the Dragon suitable for human reentry?
If not, then you fail.


The capsule was planned so from the start. Its already done full reentry flights with scientific payloads.
Two abort tests are planned for this year with a manned flight in 2015.
The big holdup is paperwork.
 
2014-03-05 09:04:23 AM

dittybopper: Actually, if it came down to it, we could probably man-rate the Dragon spacecraft from SpaceX rather quickly, because pretty much all the development is done already and it has already flown (unmanned) to the ISS, at least until the Orion spacecraft comes on line.


The Ares launch vehicle for Orion has been cancelled.
 
2014-03-05 09:09:50 AM

way south: HotIgneous Intruder: way south: No, they aren't.

[img.fark.net image 850x565]


/They aren't even the best option anymore.
/Put some heat under the program and we'll have like three more options in the next year.

Is the Dragon suitable for human reentry?
If not, then you fail.

The capsule was planned so from the start. Its already done full reentry flights with scientific payloads.
Two abort tests are planned for this year with a manned flight in 2015.
The big holdup is paperwork.


Awesome.
Space X rocking the house.
 
2014-03-05 09:28:52 AM
Don't worry, that Virgin Mobile guy will go get them for us for free. He is a kind hearted guy, that does stuff like this out of the kindness of his heart.
 
2014-03-05 09:30:44 AM
Hey, maybe this is good incentive to get the Orion program kicked into high gear.
 
2014-03-05 10:28:54 AM

wildcardjack: Congratulations, America. We spend more on boner pills and dubious statins than on space.

Just as well. A human colony on a remote body would never make a profit for the investors on earth.


Cynical, but rightly so. America is too busy getting it up to realize they can't get it up into orbit anymore. Not the spam in a can stuff, anyway.
 
2014-03-05 10:30:26 AM

way south: LoneDoggie: [texasgopvote.com image 203x385]

/maybe the Nobel Peace Prize has suborbital capabilities we aren't aware of.

Much as I'm no fan of the man, this is a situation long in the making.

Personally, I would be well chuffed if the Russians locked us out.
I hope they evict us, take our keys, change the locks, and send all our astronauts home on the slowest fishing boat they can find.
I greatly desire this because it would be a terrible and public rebuke for the idiots who thought we could trust someone else to give us a ride to a hundred billion dollar outpost. It would make voters realize that the home ground capability for science and exploration is still important, and it can't be shoved to a back burner by renting time on other peoples rockets.
Maybe it would make them give NASA a budget hike for a change, so it wouldn't have to pick its favorite children for survival (RIP, SOFIA).

/Of course the Russians know what the consequences would be, so they'd never do this.
/Keeping us dependent means they always have the upper hand.


The upper pimp hand, you mean. It's how they work.
 
2014-03-05 10:45:31 AM

Pick: Don't worry, that Virgin Mobile guy will go get them for us for free. He is a kind hearted guy, that does stuff like this out of the kindness of his heart.


Those flights barely hit space. The ISS is 230 miles up.
 
2014-03-05 10:47:07 AM

Pick: Don't worry, that Virgin Mobile guy will go get them for us for free. He is a kind hearted guy, that does stuff like this out of the kindness of his heart.


His "spaceship" gets to space. Just. Orbit is a whole other ball game. That's like going for a five minute swim off Cape Cod and then saying you could swim the Atlantic. You can swim in the Atlantic. You can't swim the Atlantic.
 
2014-03-05 10:55:31 AM

Peter von Nostrand: It's not a problem if you don't care


Not caring is the problem.
 
2014-03-05 11:00:56 AM
Goddamnit so much
 
2014-03-05 11:16:31 AM
Really pathetic that we can't do something today, in 2014, that we could do 30 years ago with Skylab.

/ok to blame bush on this one?
 
2014-03-05 11:35:15 AM

MindStalker: I hope your kidding, he was floating in a balloon with 0 relative surface velocity. Do you have any idea the speeds that the ISS is orbiting at? We don't have a suit that would survive re-entry at orbital velocities.


Actually, we *COULD* do that:   Paracone

I would expect that with modern materials, it would be even easier to do today, and the system could be packed into a smaller undeployed volume.  Seems to me that would be something we could gin up and test relatively cheaply (by spaceflight standards), and it would make a decent back-up emergency evacuation method.  Not something you'd do as a matter of course, but if you had no other choice.
 
2014-03-05 11:42:50 AM

Odoriferous Queef: dittybopper: Actually, if it came down to it, we could probably man-rate the Dragon spacecraft from SpaceX rather quickly, because pretty much all the development is done already and it has already flown (unmanned) to the ISS, at least until the Orion spacecraft comes on line.

The Ares launch vehicle for Orion has been cancelled.


But they are going ahead with the shuttle-derived Space Launch System, that uses the same basic solid fuel boosters and shuttle main engines married to shuttle fuel tanks.  But instead of hanging the spacecraft on the side, they're putting it where it belongs, at the top.
 
2014-03-05 11:47:32 AM

dittybopper: MindStalker: I hope your kidding, he was floating in a balloon with 0 relative surface velocity. Do you have any idea the speeds that the ISS is orbiting at? We don't have a suit that would survive re-entry at orbital velocities.

Actually, we *COULD* do that:   Paracone

I would expect that with modern materials, it would be even easier to do today, and the system could be packed into a smaller undeployed volume.  Seems to me that would be something we could gin up and test relatively cheaply (by spaceflight standards), and it would make a decent back-up emergency evacuation method.  Not something you'd do as a matter of course, but if you had no other choice.


"No parachute was required. The terminal velocity of the Paracone was 42 km/hour and impact was absorbed by the crushable structure of the cap of the cone.  "

Oh that cute. I'm sure a modern replacement would include a parachute. But a lithobraking manuever isn't exactly optimal for safety.
 
2014-03-05 12:21:04 PM

MindStalker: dittybopper: MindStalker: I hope your kidding, he was floating in a balloon with 0 relative surface velocity. Do you have any idea the speeds that the ISS is orbiting at? We don't have a suit that would survive re-entry at orbital velocities.

Actually, we *COULD* do that:   Paracone

I would expect that with modern materials, it would be even easier to do today, and the system could be packed into a smaller undeployed volume.  Seems to me that would be something we could gin up and test relatively cheaply (by spaceflight standards), and it would make a decent back-up emergency evacuation method.  Not something you'd do as a matter of course, but if you had no other choice.

"No parachute was required. The terminal velocity of the Paracone was 42 km/hour and impact was absorbed by the crushable structure of the cap of the cone.  "

Oh that cute. I'm sure a modern replacement would include a parachute. But a lithobraking manuever isn't exactly optimal for safety.


Well, like I said, it's the sort of thing you'd do if you had no other choice.

And 42 km/hour is about the same as a fall from a 7 meters height, or about 22 feet, with the shock partly absorbed by the structure, and the rest of it evenly distributed across your body.

Sounds eminently survivable to me.  After all, people generally don't die in car crashes where the combined velocity is 26 MPH.
 
2014-03-05 12:38:59 PM

Mr. Oizo: Not just ride in to space, but ride back as well. There's a couple of Americans up there right now who might be in need of some sort of carpool arrangement.


If push came to shove, a few billion dumped onto SpaceX to get a man-rated Dragon capsule ready would be done.
 
2014-03-05 02:02:16 PM

dittybopper: Odoriferous Queef: dittybopper: Actually, if it came down to it, we could probably man-rate the Dragon spacecraft from SpaceX rather quickly, because pretty much all the development is done already and it has already flown (unmanned) to the ISS, at least until the Orion spacecraft comes on line.

The Ares launch vehicle for Orion has been cancelled.

But they are going ahead with the shuttle-derived Space Launch System, that uses the same basic solid fuel boosters and shuttle main engines married to shuttle fuel tanks.  But instead of hanging the spacecraft on the side, they're putting it where it belongs, at the top.


Wow.
Thanks for the education.
 
2014-03-05 08:41:18 PM

dittybopper: MindStalker: dittybopper: MindStalker: I hope your kidding, he was floating in a balloon with 0 relative surface velocity. Do you have any idea the speeds that the ISS is orbiting at? We don't have a suit that would survive re-entry at orbital velocities.

Actually, we *COULD* do that:   Paracone

I would expect that with modern materials, it would be even easier to do today, and the system could be packed into a smaller undeployed volume.  Seems to me that would be something we could gin up and test relatively cheaply (by spaceflight standards), and it would make a decent back-up emergency evacuation method.  Not something you'd do as a matter of course, but if you had no other choice.

"No parachute was required. The terminal velocity of the Paracone was 42 km/hour and impact was absorbed by the crushable structure of the cap of the cone.  "

Oh that cute. I'm sure a modern replacement would include a parachute. But a lithobraking manuever isn't exactly optimal for safety.

Well, like I said, it's the sort of thing you'd do if you had no other choice.

And 42 km/hour is about the same as a fall from a 7 meters height, or about 22 feet, with the shock partly absorbed by the structure, and the rest of it evenly distributed across your body.

Sounds eminently survivable to me.  After all, people generally don't die in car crashes where the combined velocity is 26 MPH.



That would be the terminal velocity once back in the atmosphere, where the drag force equals gravity.  Before you hit the atmosphere, however, there is no drag force, therefore terminal velocity is pretty much as high as you have time to fall.

<high school physics>
The ISS height is currently 370 km, or 370,000 m.  Felix "brass balls" Baumgartner jumped out of his balloon just shy of 39 km, and was pretty much in zero drag free-fall for the first 7 km (have a look at the 0:47 s mark of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raiFrxbHxV0 -- the first derivative of his velocity has stopped being constant, indicative of a deceleration due to the start of air resistance.)   From this, one could assume a jumper from the ISS would be in zero air resistance for 370 - (39 - 7) = 338 km.  Because there is no air resistance, the acceleration is constant: 9.81 m/s^2 no matter how large a parachute you have.  Therefore the velocity attained at the end of the 338 km zero air resistance free fall would be 2,575 m/s (v = sqrt(2da)) or around 5,800 miles an hour.  You'd be entering the atmosphere at Mach 9, with 32 km remaining before slamming into the ground.   At that speed, you'd need to decelerate at over 100 m/s^2 to reach zero velocity before reaching ground level -- that is over 10 g's of vertical deceleration acting on your body.

And that's neglecting the much higher, 17,000+ mile per hour horizontal velocity of the ISS.  Tossing in that 7,700 m/s horizontal velocity, the total velocity when you hit the top of the atmosphere would be over 8,100 m/s, or 18,000+ miles an hour.  Mach 27.  Felix was going at Mach 1 at the same point of the atmosphere (the 0:47s mark of the video above.)  You can see his suit start to blow in the wind at that point of the video -- prior to that there's no wind so nothing for his suit to flap against.  Now consider that wind is rushing past you 27 times faster than seen in the video.  It would tear the suit right off you, and the skin right off your flesh, and the flesh right off your bones.  And your bones would incinerate.  With 10 g's of force in the veritcal direction.
</high school physics>

No thanks.
 
2014-03-05 08:54:40 PM
SpaceX has just announced 6 test flights this month, with organic lifeforms inside, to be launched to the space station in the SpaceX crew capsule.

/Rafael 'Ted' Cruz and Rafael 'Ted' Nugent said to be thrilled to go where no teabagger has gone before.
//Space that is.
///They are already accustomed to using diapers.
 
2014-03-05 10:10:28 PM

Mr. Oizo: dittybopper: MindStalker: dittybopper: MindStalker: I hope your kidding, he was floating in a balloon with 0 relative surface velocity. Do you have any idea the speeds that the ISS is orbiting at? We don't have a suit that would survive re-entry at orbital velocities.

Actually, we *COULD* do that:   Paracone

I would expect that with modern materials, it would be even easier to do today, and the system could be packed into a smaller undeployed volume.  Seems to me that would be something we could gin up and test relatively cheaply (by spaceflight standards), and it would make a decent back-up emergency evacuation method.  Not something you'd do as a matter of course, but if you had no other choice.

"No parachute was required. The terminal velocity of the Paracone was 42 km/hour and impact was absorbed by the crushable structure of the cap of the cone.  "

Oh that cute. I'm sure a modern replacement would include a parachute. But a lithobraking manuever isn't exactly optimal for safety.

Well, like I said, it's the sort of thing you'd do if you had no other choice.

And 42 km/hour is about the same as a fall from a 7 meters height, or about 22 feet, with the shock partly absorbed by the structure, and the rest of it evenly distributed across your body.

Sounds eminently survivable to me.  After all, people generally don't die in car crashes where the combined velocity is 26 MPH.


That would be the terminal velocity once back in the atmosphere, where the drag force equals gravity.  Before you hit the atmosphere, however, there is no drag force, therefore terminal velocity is pretty much as high as you have time to fall.

<high school physics>
The ISS height is currently 370 km, or 370,000 m.  Felix "brass balls" Baumgartner jumped out of his balloon just shy of 39 km, and was pretty much in zero drag free-fall for the first 7 km (have a look at the 0:47 s mark of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raiFrxbHxV0 -- the first derivative of his velocity has stopped being constant, indicative of a deceleration due to the start of air resistance.)   From this, one could assume a jumper from the ISS would be in zero air resistance for 370 - (39 - 7) = 338 km.  Because there is no air resistance, the acceleration is constant: 9.81 m/s^2 no matter how large a parachute you have.  Therefore the velocity attained at the end of the 338 km zero air resistance free fall would be 2,575 m/s (v = sqrt(2da)) or around 5,800 miles an hour.  You'd be entering the atmosphere at Mach 9, with 32 km remaining before slamming into the ground.   At that speed, you'd need to decelerate at over 100 m/s^2 to reach zero velocity before reaching ground level -- that is over 10 g's of vertical deceleration acting on your body.

And that's neglecting the much higher, 17,000+ mile per hour horizontal velocity of the ISS.  Tossing in that 7,700 m/s horizontal velocity, the total velocity when you hit the top of the atmosphere would be over 8,100 m/s, or 18,000+ miles an hour.  Mach 27.  Felix was going at Mach 1 at the same point of the atmosphere (the 0:47s mark of the video above.)  You can see his suit start to blow in the wind at that point of the video -- prior to that there's no wind so nothing for his suit to flap against.  Now consider that wind is rushing past you 27 times faster than seen in the video.  It would tear the suit right off you, and the skin right off your flesh, and the flesh right off your bones.  And your bones would incinerate.  With 10 g's of force in the veritcal direction.
</high school physics>

No thanks.


You didn't look at the link, did you?

A paracone is a large inflatable cone that is ballisticly stable and that protects the astronaut even though it's open at the top.

Because it is less dense than a conventional spacecraft, it slows up faster and higher. That means less aerodynamic stress and heating in the more dense layers of the atmosphere.
 
2014-03-05 11:26:02 PM

dittybopper: Mr. Oizo: dittybopper: MindStalker: dittybopper: MindStalker: I hope your kidding, he was floating in a balloon with 0 relative surface velocity. Do you have any idea the speeds that the ISS is orbiting at? We don't have a suit that would survive re-entry at orbital velocities.

Actually, we *COULD* do that:   Paracone

I would expect that with modern materials, it would be even easier to do today, and the system could be packed into a smaller undeployed volume.  Seems to me that would be something we could gin up and test relatively cheaply (by spaceflight standards), and it would make a decent back-up emergency evacuation method.  Not something you'd do as a matter of course, but if you had no other choice.

"No parachute was required. The terminal velocity of the Paracone was 42 km/hour and impact was absorbed by the crushable structure of the cap of the cone.  "

Oh that cute. I'm sure a modern replacement would include a parachute. But a lithobraking manuever isn't exactly optimal for safety.

Well, like I said, it's the sort of thing you'd do if you had no other choice.

And 42 km/hour is about the same as a fall from a 7 meters height, or about 22 feet, with the shock partly absorbed by the structure, and the rest of it evenly distributed across your body.

Sounds eminently survivable to me.  After all, people generally don't die in car crashes where the combined velocity is 26 MPH.


That would be the terminal velocity once back in the atmosphere, where the drag force equals gravity.  Before you hit the atmosphere, however, there is no drag force, therefore terminal velocity is pretty much as high as you have time to fall.

<high school physics>
The ISS height is currently 370 km, or 370,000 m.  Felix "brass balls" Baumgartner jumped out of his balloon just shy of 39 km, and was pretty much in zero drag free-fall for the first 7 km (have a look at the 0:47 s mark of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raiFrxbHxV0 -- the first derivative of his velocit ...


It's not a question of density of the spacecraft, but of the density of the atmosphere.  Because atmospheric density above 50 km is one thousandth of that of the surface, and at 100 km is one millionth  there's virtually no drag, and during free-fall through space above the Karaman line, you'll be accelerating to ludicrous speed -- if not plaid -- by the time you slam into the thicker part of the atmosphere.  There is a reason re-entry vehicles have high tech thermal shielding, and when just a few of Colombia's thermal blocks failed, the entire spacecraft was lost.
 
2014-03-06 08:11:21 AM

Mr. Oizo: It's not a question of density of the spacecraft, but of the density of the atmosphere.  Because atmospheric density above 50 km is one thousandth of that of the surface, and at 100 km is one millionth  there's virtually no drag, and during free-fall through space above the Karaman line, you'll be accelerating to ludicrous speed -- if not plaid -- by the time you slam into the thicker part of the atmosphere.  There is a reason re-entry vehicles have high tech thermal shielding, and when just a few of Colombia's thermal blocks failed, the entire spacecraft was lost.


From the link you've been so studiously avoiding.  I'm bolding the important parts:

American manned rescue spacecraft. Study 1963. The Douglas Paracone was one of the most minimal schemes for bail-out from orbit. The objective was to hit a continental land mass; for such purposes totally manual re-entry operations were used.

After separation from the spacecraft, the undeployed Paracone consisted of essentially the pilot in his seat, with a small solid retrorocket motor mounted on struts above the pilot's chest.

The astronaut would first roughly orient himself and the seat facing forward along the direction of orbital motion using cold gas thrusters. Then he would ignite the solid rocket motor. The motor had 18 seconds of low level 'vernier' thrust (9 kgf), during which time the pilot could correct its alignment using hand holds on the motor. It then went into 60 seconds of full thrust (44 kgf). The Paracone was designed to handle re-entry angles resulting from up to 30 degrees misalignment of the motor. Accuracy was within 800 km of the planned impact point.

After retrofire the empty motor was discarded and a large light-weight re-entry shell was deployed from the seat by gas pressure. The same gas supply was used for the reaction control thrusters. With a low ballistic coefficient the Paracone could be made of Rene-41 alloy fabric, with a Teflon coating. Heat loads were calculated to be within the heat rejection capacity of the astronaut's portable life support system. A ballistic re-entry followed, with a peak of 9.6 G's. No parachute was required. The terminal velocity of the Paracone was 42 km/hour and impact was absorbed by the crushable structure of the cap of the cone. The total mass of the Paracone system compared favorably with that of conventional ejection seats.

The mass breakdown was:
Astronaut & Suit: 88.9 kg
Seat & Restraints: 13.6 kg
Survival Pack: 10.9 kg
Life Support Pack: 13.6 kg
Re-Entry Vehicle Structure: 56.7 kg
Pressurization System: 6.8 kg
Control System: 2.3 kg
Retro Motor: 17.7 kg
Retro Motor Mounts: 2.7 kg
Ejection Motors: 4.5 kg
Beacons: 5.0 kg
Packaging Structure: 4.5 kg
Total: 227.2 kg

Gross mass: 227 kg (500 lb). 
Unfuelled mass: 216 kg (476 lb). 
Payload: 89 kg (196 lb). 
Height: 1.00 m (3.20 ft). 
Span: 7.62 m (24.99 ft). 
Thrust: 431 N (96 lbf). 
Specific impulse: 255 s.
 
2014-03-06 08:21:58 AM
A bit more on inflatable re-entry vehicles:

http://www.jamesoberg.com/112003irv_his.html

And yes, inflatable heat shields have been demonstrated to work:

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/jul/HQ_12-250_IRVE-3_Launch.htm l

http://www.spaceflight.esa.int/irdt/factsheet.pdf

(last one was a partial success:  A tear prevented the second, larger shield from deploying properly)
 
2014-03-06 03:44:31 PM
Pfft.

We can build moon rockets from a pile of junk in a cave in Pakistan.
 
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