Space Suit Or No Space Suit, That Is The Question | Space

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Just over two years ago, when I interviewed Red Bull Stratos extreme parachutist Felix Baumgartner on the tenth anniversary of his 127,852-foot jump from the edge of space, I casually asked if one of the suborbital space companies offered him a free flight, would he take it.

I was surprised by his answer. “One of those guys called me when William Shatner went up, and we discussed it. My answer was that if you want me to get on one of those rockets, you’ll have to pay me.”

Why? Because tourists on such flights don’t wear space suits. A sudden loss of cabin pressure would kill everyone aboard in less than a minute. Blood boils at the Armstrong Line (around 60,000 feet) without sufficient pressurization. These suborbital flights go above 250,000 feet.

I was a suborbital ticketholder for nearly 14 years. I recently had my deposit returned (see story link at end) because of a number of things, one of which was people effectively cutting in line to do “research,” and reportedly paying a good deal of money to do so.

As for the pressurization thing, I hadn’t thought too much about it. Some American extreme-altitude military pilots I met reinforced Baumgartner’s supposition, though. These guys, as a matter of course, fly higher than the Armstrong Line on their missions, and, as such, wear space suits. When I told them that, as a younger man, I had gone up to 84,000 feet in a MiG-25 Foxbat without a space suit – just G pants, an oxygen mask and a…

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