Thinking about the next era of spaceflight has made me wonder about the logic of the ‘splashdown.’
Even with the Right Stuff, astronauts and instruments aboard must take an extra beating when the capsule hits the sea (especially if one of the chutes is malfunctioning).
Today’s invention is based on the training pools provided for ski jumpers in which bubbles are injected into the water, to help lessen the shock of diving in.
It takes the form of a cannister of highly-compressed air which is automatically jettisoned moments before a returning command module splashes down. This sinks and fires several jets of air outwards radially, to form a large bubble-filled volume.
This would allow the craft to penetrate somewhat more deeply, but decrease the resulting bang to less bonecrushing levels.