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Space Technology

Space Diving: Iron Man Meets Star Trek Suit In Development 133

Posted by samzenpus
from the someday-soon dept.
cylonlover writes "Science fiction may well become reality with the development of a real life Iron Man suit that would allow astronauts or extreme thrill seekers to space dive from up to 62 miles (100 km) above the Earth's surface at the very edge of space, and safely land using thruster boots instead of a parachute. Hi-tech inventors over at Solar System Express (Sol-X) and biotech designers Juxtopia LLC (JLLC) are collaborating on this project with a goal of releasing a production model of such a suit by 2016. The project will use a commercial space suit to which will be added augmented reality (AR) goggles, jet packs, power gloves and movement gyros."
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Space Diving: Iron Man Meets Star Trek Suit In Development

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...to which will be added augmented reality (AR) goggles, jet packs, power gloves and movement gyros.
    I'd love the power gloves– they're so bad.

    • Not two.
      However, I'd rather strap on the servo mitts and pit my metal; against common household utensils.
      Or something like that, but then I think we're all Bozo's on this bus.

    • by clemdoc (624639)
      AR goggles for an enhanced splash screen?
  • I understand their efforts to relate it to the Iron Man and Star Trek suits, and while this may contribute to the development thereof, it's not quite there yet...and I think it's nuts, but would be fun if the freefall works.

    I'm waiting for nanotube muscle fibers that, with EEG, operate as a part of the body. From there, armor and flight capabilities.
    • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@ p ... r e trograde.com> on Thursday May 30, 2013 @03:42AM (#43858093)

      Nanofibre? Sure, but I want to use them to create a hybrid organic / inorganic mental lattice. My current brain can then interact with the additional brain power and more and more power can be added. Hopefully by the time my organic cells are old and dying it will be a mere fraction of the total mind and be redundantly duplicated across the neural network from recalling the memories. Bodies? Where I'm going, I don't need bodies. Why jump to the ground from space when I can just control a remote avatar wirelessly from the rim of the planet's gravity well?

      Some people watched star trek and wanted to be the captain or engineer... I wanted to be the ship.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I hear you. It's good to know I'm not the only one. Although I extend that to being a borg of only one entity. Your distinctiveness is not necessary, you will NOT be assimilated! Imagine not having one body, but as many miriad forms as your imagination, engineering and environmental requirements allow. I would like to float in the magnetoshere of the sun, crawl into the Earths mantle, surf on a wave of liquid methane. There is such a huge universe out there and I want to experience it all.

        • I hear you. It's good to know I'm not the only one. Although I extend that to being a borg of only one entity. Your distinctiveness is not necessary, you will NOT be assimilated! Imagine not having one body, but as many miriad forms as your imagination, engineering and environmental requirements allow. I would like to float in the magnetoshere of the sun, crawl into the Earths mantle, surf on a wave of liquid methane. There is such a huge universe out there and I want to experience it all.

          You need to read Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga books - Void Trilogy, etc.

      • You, sir, have won all my mod points from now to... eternity.

      • by Malaak (1093915)
        Just in case you did not know them already: You might be interested in reading Iain M. Banks Culter novels. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_(The_Culture) [wikipedia.org]
      • Ah, you're an Edenist! :)

        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edenism

    • The landing would only need short-lived, computer-controlled rockets, possibly just the same things as the jet packs from the 1950s, nased on hudrogen peroxide.

      There's a ton of engineering that has to go into this first, so if they realize it, expect to see many, many test flights taking off from the ground first, and that it will work without a human inside.

    • by wagnerrp (1305589)
      Actually, we are there. We could build a space dive suit right now (or about a year down the line with sufficient funding once all the engineering legwork is done). It's just not that tough to get down from 100 kilometers. You really don't have all that much energy to dissipate. Just make a suit with locking joints to prevent the wearer's limbs from being broken off, use a cryogenic oxygen tank to cool the suit as it boils off, and you're golden. Now being at 100km with an initial velocity of 8.5km/s i
      • In the 1960s, NASA investigated a personal orbital-reentry system called MOOSE [wikipedia.org], should an astronaut need to bail-out of an orbital station. As with just about anything in space, you gotta deal with the kinetic energy somehow.
        • by wagnerrp (1305589)
          Except you don't, because this company is not proposing an orbital re-entry system. What they want to design is for someone at a fixed position, 100km up, so basically the same flight envelope as SpaceShipOne/Two. There's not enough energy there to really be an issue. You just need to lock those limbs down so they don't flail around.
  • Vaporware (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 30, 2013 @12:36AM (#43857455)

    Vaporware is exactly what this is. The red bull team spent years designing and prepping for their suit, and it was a one off. These guys are going to have a suit production ready by 2016? Hogwash.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      But but but private space 3D asteroid mining is just around the corner! You Luddite!
    • by tgd (2822)

      Vaporware is exactly what this is. The red bull team spent years designing and prepping for their suit, and it was a one off. These guys are going to have a suit production ready by 2016? Hogwash.

      Well, to be fair, it was mostly an issue of the capsule, money and not working full time on it. Space suits aren't rocket science. At 60 miles up, starting at a dead stop, you're not going to deal with things like friction heating to any great extent. You just need a pressure suit. That's not the interesting part of what Red Bull did, or what these folks are dong.

      Now, if they were going full on Halo ODST style "jump from low orbit", where they're going 15k mph to start... that's a whole different kind of re

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Nice that the guy in the video redefined "low earth orbit" as well. That would still require a velocity of over 9000m/s which I think is beyond the possibility of a "platform". Also I think the reentry at this velocity would be tricky and might be a little warmer than the figure claimed in the video.

      Essentially the video is seems to be a sales pitch with no actual real life qualities at all.

    • by Thruen (753567)

      These guys are going to have a suit production ready by 2016?

      Nope. FTA:

      Testing the suit at altitude should begin around July of 2016 with 1.25 mile-high (2 km) parachute jumps from a helium balloon and tethered tower. No firm dates have been set for suborbital and orbital testing

      So they're hoping to be able to test it in a few years at a lower altitude than either their goal or the Red Bull jump. And they're planning to use a robot for it, too. So they don't even have a date when they expect to have a human jump in this suit, let alone a goal of being ready for production by 2016. How did you even get modded up? And as insightful? RTFA people.

  • Seems like vaporware to me, it seems to take every precaution they can think to survive the trip but no mention of the actual energy required to make a safe landing form that altitude. Jet boots need fuel and no parachute is mentioned.
    • by techno-vampire (666512) on Thursday May 30, 2013 @01:44AM (#43857663) Homepage
      Jet boots need fuel..

      Lots and lots of fuel if you're going to make a safe landing at that speed. By the time you add in all the extra space needed for all of that fuel, gyros to keep you properly oriented and enough shielding to protect you on the way down, you have a landing boat, not a suit.
      • by tp1024 (2409684) on Thursday May 30, 2013 @03:33AM (#43858057)

        Actually, you need surprisingly little fuel.

        Even for a modest exhaust velocity of 2000m/s of the rocket and a terminal velocity of 100m/s (the atmosphere does most of the breaking for you anyway), only about 5% of the total mass need to be fuel to land. That's about 20kg of fuel for a total mass of 300kg of the whole rig including the shaved ape. There's also a healthy safety margin for hovering and fooling around before touchdown, especially if you use somewhat better rocket fuel. (2000m/s isn't all that great).

      • by tgd (2822)

        Jet boots need fuel..

        Lots and lots of fuel if you're going to make a safe landing at that speed. By the time you add in all the extra space needed for all of that fuel, gyros to keep you properly oriented and enough shielding to protect you on the way down, you have a landing boat, not a suit.

        What speed?

        Terminal velocity for something person-shaped is about 120mph. You'll build up some higher speed when you're higher in the atmosphere, but you'll bleed most of it in the low atmosphere. You're not having to stop a ton of weight from more than a couple hundred miles an hour.

        • Terminal velocity for something person-shaped is about 120mph.

          Is that terminal velocity for somebody spread out flat, or somebody coming down feet first? It can make a big difference.
          • by tgd (2822)

            Terminal velocity for something person-shaped is about 120mph.

            Is that terminal velocity for somebody spread out flat, or somebody coming down feet first? It can make a big difference.

            Flat, although "big" isn't all that big. 100mph difference between the two... and you have a LOT of time to scrub the speed. That's why they didn't need a super-sonic capable parachute when they did the Red Bull thing -- you naturally slow back down to fairly close to terminal velocity when you get into the denser atmosphere, anyway.

            • Flat, although "big" isn't all that big. 100mph difference between the two.

              Thank you. And, I agree that "big" is relative. Coming in feet first gives you a maximum velocity roughly 83% higher than coming in flat, which sounds like a lot more than saying there's a difference of 100 mph. It's all in how you describe it.
        • by Thruen (753567)

          Terminal velocity for something person-shaped is about 120mph.

          FTA:

          In real life we have Felix Baumgartner, an Austrian skydiver, daredevil and BASE jumper who set a world record for skydiving an estimated 24.24 miles (39 km), reaching a speed of 843.6 mph (1,357.64 km/h), or Mach 1.25, on October 14, 2012.

          So no. Actually the figure you mention, if I recall correctly, is based on reports from skydivers while spread out to catch wind and minimize speed. I'm not an expert, but it seems to me calculating the terminal velocity of a person depends on too many variables to be very accurate. If one wore an outfit meant to maximize speed for skydiving, not unlike what they use in skiing, I'd imagine you could reach even higher speeds.

          • by tgd (2822)

            Terminal velocity for something person-shaped is about 120mph.

            FTA:

            In real life we have Felix Baumgartner, an Austrian skydiver, daredevil and BASE jumper who set a world record for skydiving an estimated 24.24 miles (39 km), reaching a speed of 843.6 mph (1,357.64 km/h), or Mach 1.25, on October 14, 2012.

            So no. Actually the figure you mention, if I recall correctly, is based on reports from skydivers while spread out to catch wind and minimize speed. I'm not an expert, but it seems to me calculating the terminal velocity of a person depends on too many variables to be very accurate. If one wore an outfit meant to maximize speed for skydiving, not unlike what they use in skiing, I'd imagine you could reach even higher speeds.

            Sorry, should've been more clear -- terminal velocity in the lower atmosphere.

            The point is, unless you're deliberately diving at the ground, you don't have that much speed to scrub. (And even nose-diving, terminal velocity is in the 200mph range at sea-level.)

      • by necro81 (917438)

        By the time you add in all the extra space needed for all of that fuel, gyros to keep you properly oriented and enough shielding to protect you on the way down, you have a landing boat, not a suit

        That was my reaction, too. Ironman is only slightly plausible once you suspend your disbelief about the mini arc reactor Tony Stark has stuck in his chest. In order to provide enough thrust for him to fly that suit supersonic, it would need megawatts of continuous power from, essentially, no fuel mass. Oh, an

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      Seems like vaporware to me, it seems to take every precaution they can think to survive the trip but no mention of the actual energy required to make a safe landing form that altitude. Jet boots need fuel and no parachute is mentioned.

      well if they're unable to provide a method to go to 100km for jumping in affordable fashion, it doesn't matter what the shit is that they promise to go with the suit as long as they get someone to pay for the lunches in the meantime.

      the booster idea is stupid.

      yes, it would be very fun to jump from 100km, but why bother with booster landing??? like what the fuck? if you want a booster party trick, first make it work by jumping off a choppre. or heck, make it work for crash landing choppers and planes.

      • by hlavac (914630)
        100km would be doable using a balloon, considering you do not need the velocity to reach orbit, quite opposite you want to fall down quite close to where you started....
        • by Anonymous Coward

          100km would not be doable with a balloon in the foreseeable future. The altitude record for an ultrathin-film _unmanned_ balloon is around 53km: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_altitude_record

          Spacediving will require some form of suborbital rocket vehicle, as seen in this CG short by Kyle Botha: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrlIB1rzlZs

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        "as long as they get someone to pay for the lunches in the meantime."

        I am sure that if you buy the suit they will pay for your lunches.

        What do you prefer Pastrami or chicken?

      • by wagnerrp (1305589)

        the booster idea is stupid.

        The booster idea is more or less necessary. Parachutes don't stop you, they merely slow you down. You've still got a decent amount of speed going when you hit the ground. It's hard enough on your knees doing that with just your own weight. You're not going to want to do that with a bulky pressure suit, air tank, and whatever other protective and stabilization gear you need to get you through a Mach 3 freefall. Re-entry typically land in water to cushion the fall, but then you're not going to be buoyant

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I don't see how this could possibly end badly.

  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Thursday May 30, 2013 @01:05AM (#43857569)

    You're hurtling to your demise at past the speed of sound in atmospheric conditions that would literally make your blood boil. How much more extra sense of realism and stimulation do you need at that point?

  • I love the power glove. It's so bad.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ya0F83Bmbl4 [youtube.com]

  • Safety consideration (Score:3, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday May 30, 2013 @01:21AM (#43857615)

    If you can have a parachute, why not include a parachute? I'd consider retroboosters as the backup system, not the primary, for safety. By the time you're close enough to the ground to fire them, the parachute is no longer an option, so if they fail, you get about 3 seconds to contemplate your own stupidity before cratering.

    A company that can provide two layers of life-saving security and yet only manufactures one should be charged with manslaughter, but instead we're allowing it because it caters to thrillseekers? Where was this kind of logic during the anti-smoking campaigns of yesteryear? "Smoking is okay; it's a thrill-seeking behavior!" Yeah.... okay, sure.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A libertarian you are not. Explain to me how the company is guilty of criminal negligence (in your mind) if they don't add the maximum amount of bubble wrap, etc, even if all users are fully informed of the risks and opt to engage in the activity regardless.

      Your way of thinking leads to a nanny state where freedom is curtailed. Let people engage in risky behavior if they are cognizant of the risks and alternatives. Freedom to fail is one of the most fundamental of freedoms. Let people compete for a Darwin A

      • A libertarian you are not. Explain to me how the company is guilty of criminal negligence (in your mind) if they don't add the maximum amount of bubble wrap, etc, even if all users are fully informed of the risks and opt to engage in the activity regardless.

        Probably for the same reason that automotive companies resisted including airbags, seat belts, etc. until the government forced them into compliance; Because corporations will never make something safe unless they're forced to. Harken back to the beginning of the industrial revolution when workers routinely fell into spinning equipment and were mangled. There was no OSHA then, there was no social security, there was no unemployment insurance... you got eaten by the machine and lost your arm? Too. Fucking. B

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        what they're promising should be more in the fraud category..

    • Makes sense. Also, using the parachute as primary braking system would allow for less fuel for boosters, making the entire thing more plausible and manageable, as well as safer.

      While they were at it, why not also include wingsuit capabilities?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wingsuit_flying [wikipedia.org]

      Although it should be noted that jumps from this height have not been so ambitious, if that is the right word...

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Baumgartner [wikipedia.org]

      I'm pretty sure that if anyone could have done this with added roc

      • by geekmux (1040042)

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Baumgartner [wikipedia.org]

        I'm pretty sure that if anyone could have done this with added rockets, wingsuits and head-mounted lasers it would have been Red Bull & Felix.

        And I'm also pretty sure that the concept of oneupmanship still exists (says the design engineer who thinks parachutes are "boring")

        Also, Felix's goal was not to soar like a bird in a wingsuit. He was going for several world records that had more to do with height and free-fall that had been set decades earlier, by the very man who mentored him for this challenge.

    • by geekmux (1040042)

      A company that can provide two layers of life-saving security and yet only manufactures one should be charged with manslaughter, but instead we're allowing it because it caters to thrillseekers? Where was this kind of logic during the anti-smoking campaigns of yesteryear? "Smoking is okay; it's a thrill-seeking behavior!" Yeah.... okay, sure.

      So, should we charge hand chalk companies with manslaughter because some thrillseeker decides to free climb a mountain in Yosemite park instead of also purchasing and using at least 2 ropes, 4 carabiners, and 17 points of connection on the mountain face?

      Do you step on a commercial airline with a parachute strapped to your back? Should we sue the airlines for not providing one?

      It's also odd that you would question the backup safety system while many would question the concept of jumping from space in the fi

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        "Do you step on a commercial airline with a parachute strapped to your back? Should we sue the airlines for not providing one?"

        The speeds and altitudes that airliners fly at, you will die exiting the aircraft. Unless you have one that has a clear belly exit stairwell, you will be smashed against the side of the plane several times.

        Delta does not supply them because 90% of the passengers will die either exiting the plane or upon impact with the ground because they are not trained in a jump.

        Lastly, I dont kn

        • A commercial aircraft flight does not, by design, have a flight vector which is both perpendicular to the earth and occurring at terminal velocity just before initiating the landing sequence. Anyone with flight design experience knows that you never rely on a single point failure for a safety condition (thruster firing). In the rare instance where such a condition is unavoidable, it undergoes intense scrutiny and is generally only acceptable if alternatives which provide redundancy significantly increase th

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How'd you solve the icing problem?

  • Sizes? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Mistakill (965922)
    Does it come in 3XL or bigger?
  • Felix Baumgartner adjusted his scarf and cleaned his horn rimmed glasses before mumbling something about space jumping before it got popular.

  • In the early 1960's, General Electric was working on an emergency "bail-out" system for astronauts in low-earth orbit. http://www.astronautix.com/craft/moose.htm [astronautix.com]
    and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOOSE [wikipedia.org]

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday May 30, 2013 @06:29AM (#43858653) Homepage

    Land using rocket boots. Nope. 90% death rate for that one. the Human body does NOT have the strength to handle controlling and vectoring thrust with the legs. Anyone trying this will simply die. And it's a very stupid idea. A parachute works great, I'd rather have that than a giant tank of rocket fuel on my back.

    • by dj245 (732906)

      Land using rocket boots. Nope. 90% death rate for that one. the Human body does NOT have the strength to handle controlling and vectoring thrust with the legs. Anyone trying this will simply die. And it's a very stupid idea. A parachute works great, I'd rather have that than a giant tank of rocket fuel on my back.

      Do they have to have extraordinary strength? If the deceleration from ~120mph to 0 (or near 0) takes 25-27 seconds, that is only about 2g. Most people who are in good condition could probably handle that. If you are going to all the trouble of making rocket boots, you might as well go to the extra trouble of putting the thrust controlling and vectoring in the boots. Its still a terrible idea but I believe it is a possible idea.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Your 2G of deceleration is 2G of thrust, so move your foot and you now have to fight 2G of lateral acceleration. I would love to see any human stop a spin that is caused by lateral thrust in the air from their legs. Zero chance of any human doing anything but be a spectactular splat on the ground after looking like a bottle rocket.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I agree that it's a dumb idea, but not for the reason which you suggest. We're talking about a powered suit, and even if we weren't if it's a hardsuit or just has hard components it can reasonably be locked into position. The human body wouldn't control the thrust at all; by the time anyone actually builds something like this it can probably be mentally controlled, and in any case the user is simply going to look at the terrain and twitch their eye a certain way when they're looking at their intended landin

  • Until Elon Musk starts a company to do this, I'll consider it basically suicide. When Elon Musk tells me it can be done and he puts together something that can do it, I'll sign up in a heartbeat.

  • "I see you are trying to start the thruster boots, would you like help with that?"
  • riight.. I can't grasp the 62 mi. altitude limit ... Surely the enironment at that altitude is essentially the same as at 300 miles, no? I mean, if ya wanna thriLLL GO for it! Oxygen, etc, should not be a problem .. nor can i think of any other safety issue more far-fetched than the project itself (other than the stupid 'boot thruster' idea!)
  • "safely land using thruster boots instead of a parachute" Completely incorrect. According to the article and video [vimeo.com], the suit will use not one, but TWO parachutes. As for the boots, they are not really "Iron Man" type thrusters, but simply for ensuring a smoother parachute-assisted landing (and probably mainly to look cool): From the article: "The other main function of the diver’s gyroscopic boots will kick in as he nears the surface of the Earth and he fires off his miniature in-built aerospike thr
  • A concept illustrated by Lee J. Ames from the 1959 book "Man’s Reach Into Space" by Roy A. Gallant. http://mfwright.com/spacebailout.html [mfwright.com]
  • "Space dive" to me sounds like a process whereby one dives into space, not from out of it, but I'm probably being semantically pedantic.
  • ... commercial space suit ...

  • I never understood how the fuck Iron Man's jet boots are supposed to work. They're clearly rocket motors, but somehow powered by his arc reactor which afaik just produces a lot of electric power? Unless he's invented the most badass ion drive units ever it makes completely no sense.

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