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Can You Survive a Fall From Space?

If you’re going to fight off an alien invasion and stop the obliteration of all sentient life in the galaxy almost single-handedly, you’d better be seriously tough. The Halo franchise’s “Spartan” soldiers are just that–bigger, taller, faster, and stronger than any other human fighter. But are these Covenant killers really so tough that they could survive a fall…from space?

This thought experiment comes from the opening mission of the iconic first-person shooter Halo 3. In it, Spartan soldier John-117 jumps from the enemy ship the Anodyne as it’s descending through the earth’s atmosphere.

According to the game and the Halo comics, Master Chief jumps out at two kilometers above the surface, and rides an improvised heat shield down into the African soil. The Chief takes a beating during the impact, but eventually he’s up and meleeing grunts like nothing happened. I know that Chief is a genetically engineered super soldier in an exosuit, but could any humanoid really survive this kind of descent and impact? We figure it out in my latest episode of Because Science!

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