Science: Spacecraft
Bobsleigh of last resort   (+6)  [vote for, against]
For when your other option is death.

A device for one or two occupant evacuation from near orbit manned satelites/space stations. It is about the size and shape of a regular two man bobsleigh, but made mostly from ceramic materials to withstand high temperatures. The rider, while falling through the atmosphere wears his/her space suit, and assumes the tuck position behind the ceramic fairing.

At the front is an inlet (like a gaping shark mouth) to a Ranque-Hilsch vortex tube, which runs the length of the underside of the sleigh. The hot end opens directly to the rear of the bobsleigh, the cold end is ducted to keep occupants cool, a thermostat is provided and linked to the hot fraction controlling valve on the tube to maintain an even temperature for the rider .

As you hurtle toward earth at ludicrous speed, you have no short supply of compressed air to keep the tube humming nicely (the shark mouth is actually an adjustable aperture so that the vortex tube doesn't hum itself to bits - No I do not pretend to Know how they work, but am figuring that too much pressure might just be a bad thing)

Along the length of the bobsleigh are sufficient fins to ensure it's general nose first descent when it falls from 'space' and begins to be affected by earth's atmosphere. Once speed has reduced enough, the on-board chute opens and the whole thing floats gently the remainder of the way to Earth.

On the 'dash' is the warning sticker- Please keep hands and feet inside vehicle during re-entry.

Thanks to [Bigwill] for the astronaut parachute idea.
-- the dog's breakfast, Sep 18 2007

vortex tube
[the dog's breakfast, Sep 18 2007]

Just the thing I was looking for Low_20budget_20spacecraft
[normzone, Sep 18 2007]

I'll bun this if it's even imaginably feasible AND if you change it from a "last resort" astronaut life-saving thing to an Xtreme sport.
-- globaltourniquet, Sep 18 2007

I think the vortex tube's cold side is still going to be bloody hot.
-- baconbrain, Sep 18 2007

Ah, just the thing I was looking for (link).
-- normzone, Sep 18 2007

I think that these need to be modular too, so that they can be linked together for mass evacuations. The resulting blazing trail as they enter the atmosphere might be okay too.
-- the dog's breakfast, Sep 20 2007

Of all the vortex tubes, the Ranque-Hilsch vortex tube is by far my favourite.
-- zen_tom, Sep 20 2007

random, halfbakery