Feeds

Attack of the Italian space pod parachute babes

Orbital foam-dive project has models signed up

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Aero Sekur's plan is simple in outline. An astronaut - or a small escape pod deploying from a spacecraft - would use a canister of specialised foam to inflate a bowl-shaped oblate heat shield in the early phases of descent. The foam would set hard to become an extremely tough heat barrier. The shield would be shaped so as to hold the payload - the shipwrecked astronaut, droids carrying important messages etc. - in the safe zone behind it as it blazed down through the atmosphere.

Could it really work on a space suit, though?

Yes, says Giovangrossi - "a big suit, though". In real life, we might be looking more at a small escape pod type of platform.

The Aero Sekur space foamchute prototype concept

A new concept in really hot pants

Aero Sekur naturally proposes unmanned - or in this case, presumably unwomanned - flight trials to begin with, and at a small scale. The company has already ground-tested a small prototype system, able to deal with the energy release involved in de-orbiting a 15kg payload. The trials involved placing the test inflata-shield inside a plasma wind tunnel - in other words playing an enormous, thousand-degree jet blowtorch on it. Temperature probes immediately behind the shield, according to Giovangrossi, recorded no more than 80 degrees C - which is "within the astronaut safety zone".

All in all, Aero Sekur's design seems more advanced than other plans such as those by swashbuckling US spacesuit firm Orbital Outfitters to use a rigid shield podule of some sort for spacejumping. It could be that the US aspirant, which aims to make suits that have a literally high-fashion coolness factor as well as the ability to withstand orbital re-entry, will find themselves beaten to the punch. The Italians, in classic style, appear already to have stolen a march on their rivals in terms of potential space-babe glamour models. The one thing they don't seem to have got right is the name, in our opinion - the inflatafoam space-chute has initially been dubbed SPacecrew Emergency Module (SPEM), which is hardly going to add to one's bella figura.

All that said, Aero Sekur is as bereft of flight schedules as its transatlantic rival. The firm has had discussions with the European Space Agency about flight trials for its prototype, but as yet there are no firm plans.

Regarding the matter of which Shooting Star might eventually become the world's first space parachutist - truly, the first really haut couture sky diver - Giovangrossi played his cards close to his chest.

"Tests with humans are a long way off", he said. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.