Spacedive will help imperilled astronauts

2012-10-15 18:39

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Paris - Daredevil Felix Baumgartner's record-breaking jump raises hopes that pilots and even astronauts can be saved from accidents in the stratosphere, experts said on Monday.

Michel Viso, an expert in exobiology at France's National Centre of Scientific Research (CNRS), said Baumgartner's leap from 39 045m "has operational potential" for manned flight at extreme heights.

"In the event of a problem, people can eject at very great altitudes, provided they have a pressurised suit and self-contained breathing system and a parachute and provided they have the appropriate training," Viso told AFP.

Bernard Comet of France's Institute of Space Medicine and Physiology (MEDES) said: "It proves at the very least that one can eject at extreme altitude, although this is something that hasn't been done before."

Both Viso and Comet stressed that the technical and training challenges were major.

In contrast with Baumgartner, who leapt from a balloon, a pilot who ejected would be exposed to an extreme shock from acceleration, said Comet. As in Baumgartner's descent, there would be the challenge of preventing a spin, which could cause a blackout.

"It increases the window of opportunity for saving astronauts," Viso said.

It could in theory be used in the classic rocket-and-capsule system if a problem occurs at high altitude during the launch phase, he said.

But ejecting upon re-entry, when a spacecraft is flying at supersonic speed and battling atmospheric friction, would be impossible, Viso said.

Burn up

"If you re-enter at seven kilometres per second in a pressure suit, you will burn up, and so will your suit," he said.

In the early years of human spaceflight, the Soviet Union's Vostok system had an ejector seat, designed for launch abort on the ground and for recovery of the one-man crew at the end of the mission.

On his descent, the astronaut ejected at a height of around 6 000m.

The US Gemini system also had an ejection system in the event of a launchpad accident.

Other rocket-and-capsule systems, such as the Russian-Soviet Soyuz, the former Apollo moon missions, China's Shenzhou and Nasa's planned Orion, have an abort mechanism, comprising solid rocket boosters mounted on top of the crew capsule.

They are designed to haul the capsule to a safe parachute height while the rocket is on the ground or in early launch phase. It separates and falls to earth, to save weight, when the air thins.

Baumgartner's medical director, Jonathan Clark, lost his wife, Laurel, in the US space shuttle Columbia, which tore apart on 1 February 2003 as it re-entered the atmosphere.

The US space shuttle was fitted with a crew evacuation system after the 1986 Challenger disaster.

It could be used during return phase but not during launch phase. Even so, it could not have helped the Columbia crew.

Astronauts could bail out from a side hatch after donning parachutes, but only provided the shuttle was on a stable glide at a height of 6 150m or less.

Read more on:    felix baumgartner  |  france  |  space
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Beauty

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The virtual world can be very tempting to escape into but focus on also being present and keeping your feet anchored in reality....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.