Buckle up. Launch. Jump!
Sounds familiar? Well, skydiving is quite a common sport these days, where people jump off a plane with a parachute to land at a predetermined spot. However, have you wondered what happens if you were to do the same from space? No predetermined spot, no parachute, maybe a spacesuit. For instance, imagine you accidentally fell from the International Space Station (ISS) in a freefall towards the Earth. Is there even a remote chance of you surviving such a fall? We have some interesting answers for you!
Similar to skydiving, space diving is the act of jumping from an aircraft or spacecraft in near space and falling towards Earth. The Kármán line is a common definition as to where space begins, 100 km (62 mi) above sea level. This definition is accepted by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), which is an international standard setting and record-keeping body for aeronautics and astronautics.
Let’s look at some interesting scenarios.
What if you fall or jump from space without a suit? In that case, you have around 30 seconds to be rescued safely. You won’t immediately freeze or explode when you fall from space without wearing a spacesuit. You will have consciousness for around 15 seconds, post which you are likely to black out. You might die in around three minutes due to asphyxiation. But if you are rescued within a quick span of 30 seconds, there’s a good chance that you will recover completely. At most you will have quite a few bruises across your skin.
Now, what if you fall wearing a suit? If you fall off from space wearing a spacesuit, you will be alive as long as you have oxygen supply. Typically, astronauts on the International Space Station often undertake spacewalks to carry out repairs and other tasks. The spacesuit protects them and provides them with a supply of oxygen.
How long does it take to hit Earth when you jump from space?
If you fall or jump from space, you won’t immediately fall directly towards the Earth. That is because you will be in orbit. If you fall from space, you too will start orbiting the Earth. For instance, if your starting point is the ISS, it may take around 2.5 years to drop from orbit.
What could come as a surprise is that it is quite unlikely that any part of your body will find its way back to Earth. First, you may be bombarded by thousands of particles of space debris. Next, you will start heating up when you enter the Earth’s atmosphere. You are likely to be falling at around six times the speed of sound. At this speed, temperatures can reach more than 1600° Celsius and this is hot enough to melt iron! Any object or anyone in this situation is likely to be completely pulverised.
As we have already made quite clear, falling from space will prove fatal unless, of course, you plan to wear a cool Iron Man suit or have special powers like Thor or any of your favourite superheroes!
In the future, maybe someday jumping from space might become a regular adventure sport just like skydiving. But that might be a few decades away and until then, all we have to go by is Baumgartner’s epic jump and our own imagination!.
Enjoyed reading this? Check out more cool stuff on The Learning Tree blog.
Writing has always been Shreesha’s passion, be it for imparting knowledge or expressing opinions. In her former role as a journalist, she contributed to enriching society with knowledge. Now, at BYJU’S, she has moved on to something more exciting – creating tailor-made content for students. When she is not writing, you would find her looking for new ways to engage her child.
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