The Kendall Paracone

In the early years of the American space program there was a lot of concern about how to get stranded astronauts safely back to Earth. One idea was the "Kendall Paracone," proposed by Robert Kendall of McDonnell Douglass.

Kendall imagined astronauts dropping from space back to earth inside of a giant, gas-inflatable shuttlecock. The shape of the shuttlecock would ensure that it always remained nose down, preventing the device from tipping over and roasting the astronaut during re-entry. It also required no parachute. It would simply plunge all the way to the ground, slowing down naturally from air resistance just as badminton shuttlecocks do. Shock absorbers in the nose would dampen the final impact.

Coos Bay World - Oct 29, 1976

"astronaut escape sequence"
"Techniques for space and hypersonic flight escape, SAE Transactions, Vol 76, Section 3

Kendall thought his paracone system could also stop helicopters from crashing:

Aeronautical Engineering - Jan 1978

     Posted By: Alex - Fri Mar 01, 2024
     Category: Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy

I was wondering where I saw such a device before. Then I remembered my Health classes and its module about diaphragm and cervical cap.
Posted by Yudith on 03/01/24 at 12:40 PM
Cannot unsee!
Posted by eddi on 03/02/24 at 04:11 AM
I'm afraid I'm coming at this from a different perspective. That diagram of the stages of being inserted into it gives me a vibe of a "How It's Made" episode with an automated machine stuffing people into condoms. The cross-section view also looks, to me, like a condom which has been pinched prior to unrolling because it lacks a reservoir tip.
Posted by Phideaux on 03/02/24 at 03:04 PM

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