Only Felix Baumgartner managed to parachute from a helium balloon in the stratosphere is about as close as it gets.

But is it technically possible to do so from an orbiting satellite? Advantages is you can land back to earth on any path of the satellite?

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    $\begingroup$ Are you asking if they could survive? Because yeah, they could jump. To survive, you'd need something akin to MOOSE en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOOSE $\endgroup$ May 12, 2022 at 2:34
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    $\begingroup$ However, you'd have to have a way of bleeding off speed, since if you are standing on an orbiting satellite and jump towards earth, you won't actually reach it particularly quickly ... since you'd be in orbit as well. This question may need some additional clarity regarding the last sentence though $\endgroup$ May 12, 2022 at 2:46
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    $\begingroup$ MOOSE had solid rockets for deorbiting. $\endgroup$ May 12, 2022 at 2:57
  • $\begingroup$ Jebediah (Kerbal Space Program) is in his not-so-trustworthy spacecraft on his first flight--oops, he can't get down. Hmm...step out of the airlock...not falling. Oh, they gave me this nifty jetpack...incredibly overpowered, 1/4 my orbital velocity is gone by the time the tank is dry. Somehow I survived the fiery re-entry, core body temperature was several hundred Kelvin but so what. Oh, no parachute. Do a perfect dive, land head first and bounce and make it down. All three aspects of his descent are roughly equally improbable. $\endgroup$ May 12, 2022 at 4:30
  • $\begingroup$ (Yeah, I meant it about landing on his head. There's a flaw in the impact model, a perfect head-first impact doesn't kill a Kerbal.) $\endgroup$ May 12, 2022 at 4:32

2 Answers 2


A satellite is an object in orbit. This means, the satellite is circling around the earth fast enough so the gravitational pull will not bring it down.

Any object disconnecting from the satellite (i.e. you, jumping off) will be a satellite of its own, drifting away from the satellite with the velocity you pushed off (and always touching your former hosts orbit once in your race around the earth). If you happen to push off in the direction opposite of your host-satellites direction of travel, you will have executed the first half of a Hohmann transfer, i.e. your resultant orbit will take you a little farther down (but once a revolution also back up to the former orbit). Should this new orbit have such a low low-point that you graze the atmosphere, you will either glance off, or burn off. Death follows anyway.

Baumgartner jumped from a balloon, standing still over the earth, so the only relative velocity vs atmosphere he picked up was a result of his fall. You would have orbital velocity to begin with, so about 8km/s, or Mach 20...

The famous 'geostationary' satellites are not like a balloon - they race around the earth, far away from the earth, where orbital velocity is lower because the gravitational pull is lower. Jumping off a geostationary satellite will only make you another geostationary satellite, 35 thousand km away from the surface of earth.

  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, I dont get the glance off part. Under what conditions would you glance off as opposed to burn off and what happens when you glance off? $\endgroup$
    – Nederealm
    May 14, 2022 at 2:41
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the hint, i added a link. @Nederealm 'Glancing off' refers to momentarily entering the atmosphere, not losing enough v, exiting again. The orbit will have become tighter, and you will reenter again, later, and again, burn or glance. $\endgroup$
    – bukwyrm
    May 15, 2022 at 8:40

It was not only Felix Baumgartner.

Joseph Kittinger jumped from 31,333 m at the 16. August 1960.

Felix Baumgartner from 38,969 m at the 14. October 2012.

Robert Alan Eustace from 41,419 m at the 24. October 2014.

But to do that from a satellite at 400,000 m you need a thruster for the deorbit burn, a reaction control system to control the attitude within the vacuum and a heat shield to survive reentry.

A computer control for the exact timing to reach your desired landing spot is highly recommended. A too flat or too steep reentry might kill the jumper.

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    $\begingroup$ You missed out the kilo part of the distance unit. Jumping 31 m is not very far. ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    May 12, 2022 at 6:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Fred thanks for the edit, but it was not the missing kilo part, it was the wrong thousands separator. In Germany it is just the other way 12.345,67 instead of 12,345.67 as used in English. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    May 12, 2022 at 6:31
  • $\begingroup$ Apologies for the misinterpretation. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    May 12, 2022 at 9:15

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