In 1959, space pioneer, test pilot, combat aviator, and world record holder Joseph Kittinger piloted a high-altitude balloon (Excelsior III) to a height of 102,800 feet before exiting the open gondola. He became the first man to exceed the speed of sound without an aircraft or space vehicle. It is still the highest parachute jump ever. The freefall lasted four minutes and thirty-six seconds, a record.
The idea of high-altitude parachuting inspired me to think of these same sort of ‘half baked’ ideas:
1) Strap a high altitude balloon to a skydiver (who would have an appropriately designed space suit) and let him go. When he gets to the right altitude he can pull a release that would seperate him from the balloon and begin his skydiving adventure. Maximum altitude of maybe 35km.
2) An “external” capsule. This would be a design where the passengers (maybe 4 or 5) would sit on the outside perimeter of a transport, in the center of the transport would be a rocket. The rocket powered transport would be lifted to a high altitude by a balloon and then the rocket would be ignited to take the transport to the official 100km “space limit”. The passengers would basically go straight up, there wouldn’t be any attempt to go into orbit or sub-orbit. Gravity would pull the transport back to Earth and parachutes deployed to slow the descent (maybe need retrorockets too).
I wonder if these ideas would work…?
On the other end of the high-altitude parachute jump price scale, there’s the Mount Everest Skydive..