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Skydiving from space/NASA Spirit rover stuck for good

January 27, 2010

Back in 1960, a man named Joe Kittinger did probably the ballsiest thing ever done by any human being. EVER. He jumped out of a balloon that had lifted him literally to the edge of space- 102,800 feet above sea level. That’s roughly 20 miles. Not only was it by far the highest skydive (space-dive?) ever, but he also set a record for the fastest that a human being has ever traveled outside of a machine. Because he was free-falling through such thin air during the first few minutes of his jump, there wasn’t nearly as much friction to slow his fall, which allowed him to free-fall at supersonic speeds. Yes, he was traveling faster than the speed of sound, with nothing but a pressure suit around him to keep him alive. I can’t think of anything more utterly badass than that. Now a couple of people are trying to break Joe’s record by jumping from an even higher altitude. Frenchman Michel Fournier and Austrian Feliz Baumgartner are both attempting to make these jumps this year, according to an article on Discovery.com. Some would say these guys are totally crazy, but I say they are total badasses, and envy them. Watch Joe Kittinger describe his experience in this video:

NASA’s Mars rover Spirit will now become a stationary asset. The twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity were launched in 2003, and successfully landed on Mars in 2004. They were only intended to operate for 90 days, yet amazingly they have lasted 6 years. The news that NASA has abandoned efforts to free the Spirit rover from the pit of sand in which it’s been stuck for the last 6 months is somewhat saddening, but in context, it really doesn’t matter at all. These rovers are quite possibly NASA’s 2nd greatest accomplishment, next to putting a man on the moon. We should only be thrilled that this amazing little robot lasted as long as it did. Its mission is far from over, however, as it can still do plenty of science sitting right where it is. Of course, Opportunity is still mobile and NASA continues to drive it around, exploring new territory. Who knows how long these things will last? I have a strong feeling the abrasive dust that now coats almost every inch of both rovers will eventually take its toll, but how long that takes is beyond me. For more check out this article on Space.com. Here’s a cool animated GIF showing the last few maneuvering attempts to free it from the sand dune:

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One Response to “Skydiving from space/NASA Spirit rover stuck for good”

  1. Matt S Says:

    Faster than a speeding bullet? Fell to Earth from space? Did this pressure suit include a red cape?


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