Supersonic Survival Envelope Analysis for High Altitude Free Fall
Rygalov, Vadim Y.
Greene, Joyce K.
Jurist, John M.
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High altitude operations are always associated with a number of physical conditions challenging human survival scenarios, specifically during emergency egress for stratospheric and space flights. One of those conditions is presented through transition from supersonic to subsonic velocities in free fall from altitudes higher than 40 km. Research suggests mathematical model applications are applicable, outlining the survival envelope for human subjects involved in free fall and parachuting from different altitudes and subsequent transition from supersonic to subsonic velocities accompanied by aerodynamic shock waves impact on human body. Theoretical analysis for free fall equations shows that altitude of transonic transition on reentry decreases non-linearly and approaching a certain limit as initial altitude of free fall increases. This transonic transition limit is determined by planetary atmospheric characteristics and can be elevated by properly applied parachuting technology. Preliminary computation results show a distinct possibility for human subjects survival during emergency egresses from protective vehicle at altitudes around and higher than 100 km ~ 300,000 ft depending on their level of physical training. A discussion related to further research and extension of theoretical results into the area of direct experimentation with stratospheric sky-diving is also provided.