Space Diving Suit Scheduled For Testing In 2016

Look out, Tony Stark: Two Baltimore-based companies have teamed up to develop a suit that will allow the truly adventurous to dive to Earth from as high as 100 kilometers up.

What's the Latest Development?

The inventors at Solar System Express have teamed up with the biotech designers at Juxtopia LLC to design a suit that will enable its wearer to survive a dive from almost-space: specifically, 100 kilometers (62 miles) above Earth's surface. The RL MARK VI -- named in part for Robert Lawrence, the first African-American astronaut -- will consist of a commercial space suit fitted out with "augmented reality (AR) goggles, jet packs, power gloves and movement gyros." The add-ons will give the jumper some control over their fall, including an assisted vertical landing. Plans are to begin tests in 2016 via jumps from a mere 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) in the air, and when they're ready to tackle greater heights, robots will serve as initial testers.

What's the Big Idea?

Anyone's who's seen the "Iron Man" films, or is familiar with "Star Trek," has seen space diving in action. In real life, last year Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner dove to Earth from 39 kilometers (24 miles) up wearing a special pressurized suit. The RL MARK VI will need to be far more complex for its wearer to survive the jump from the 100-kilometer Kármán line separating Earth's atmosphere from outer space. It must be able to withstand, among many other things, "the heat of re-entry and supersonic and hypersonic shock waves." 

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