Don't Forget Your Back-Up 'Chute
Australia’s Felix Baumgartner was showing off his pressurized high-tech “look Mom, no brains” suit with matching double-parachute and “stop spinning” backup chute pack. He’s already had some tryout jumps from 25,000 feet, just a small step for a man, ready for a big step for parachute mankind.
This one is 23 miles up, or 120,000 feet. Thirty seconds after he jumps from the helium balloon, he will reach supersonic speed (690 mph at that altitude), and start heading toward the nearest planet. The one beneath him, three-and-twenty miles beneath him. I don’t know what he will be thinking on the way down, but let’s make a guess.
Possible thoughts: “Do I have my parachute pack? If I land in another country, do I need my passport? How deep will I go if the ‘chutes don’t work? Could I hit any Cessnas at 2,500 feet? I hope nothing really big happens today and puts this on page 20. Maybe I should have filed a flight plan with the FAA: 120k’, descending to 0’.”
What do you think is the possibility that he might go up in the shuttle and asked to be pushed out of it, toward earth, and parachute down from there? Of course, there’s that little problem of re-entry and the heat, but if he goes slow enough, there might not be too much of a difficulty. I’ll have to propose that to him. If he doesn’t crater this time.