Rocketless Reentry

There are many ways to get groundside from orbit. Most people use a shuttle, armed or not. Space Marines and other Super Soldiers might even use Drop Pods. The seriously badass (or seriously desperate) dispense with the pod entirely, put on a spacesuit, strap on a heat shield (and hopefully a parachute), and jump for it. If it's a premade kit rather than a last-minute improvisation it overlaps with Escape Pod.

Compare Reentry Scare and contrast Frictionless Reentry.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Gundam franchise has a running tradition of the heroes getting into battles while entering the atmosphere; nine times out of ten, The Hero will be caught outside his Cool Starship and has to improvise a safe re-entry.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: The Gundam pulls a sheet of heat-proof plastic out of a hidden compartment in its crotch; this became the subject of much fan-mockery (nicknaming it "magic Saran Wrap"). The movie changes this to having the crotch compartment emit coolant.
    • Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: The AEUG and Titans exhibit real forethought and equip their mecha with ballute packs just in case they can't get back to a ship in time. Kamille kills Kakricon by damaging his ballute pack, which just adds another name to the Cycle of Revenge going on between him and Jerid.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ: Puru gets caught outside the Argama, so Judau flies out with the Zeta Gundam and uses its waverider mode as a re-entry shield. Unfortunately, Puru's Qubeley's massive Shoulders of Doom cause drag and make it hard for Judau to fly straight, so Puru blasts them off using her Attack Drones.
    • Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam: Kincade gets damaged in Earth orbit and is propelled toward the planet. He activates his mech's beam shields in a desperate attempt to survive re-entry. It works, just barely, though he's still hospitalized for a month or two afterward.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz: Wing Zero and Altron still continue to fight as they enter the atmosphere. Despite Wing Zero's wings capable of being used as heat shields, it took too much damage trying to readjust Altron's posture so it doesn't burn to a crisp, which ultimately resulted in Zero's destruction.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED: Kira grabs a piece of spaceship debris left from the battle and uses it as a heat shield. This keeps him alive barely long enough for the Archangel, which unlike his Strike Gundam is designed for reentry, to maneuver beneath him and allow him to land on top of its hull. Kira only barely survives the experience, needing emergency medical attention once they've landed.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans: An enemy pilot deliberately tries to keep the Barbatos from returning to the shuttle in the hopes of destroying it; Mikazuki responds by killing the pilot, then using his mecha as a heat shield.
  • During the final episode of Kill la Kill, Ryuuko returns to Earth with no protection other than Senketsu who is incinerated during reentry.

    Comic Books 
  • Judge Dredd: In the "Titan" arc, the Titan prison colony for corrupt ex-Judges is apparently taken over by the inmates after Mega City One loses contact. Judge Dredd and a strike team go there to investigate, landing on the moon in a free fall with only their armored space suits to protect them. Dredd almost burns up during reentry because he nearly fainted.

    Comic Strips 
  • FoxTrot: Jason suggests this as a new Olympic sport, with the diver putting on a spacesuit and jumping off the diving board located at the very edge of Earth's atmosphere, burning up entirely on reentry.

    Films — Animation 
  • In the opening of Heavy Metal, an astronaut exits the space shuttle in a 1959 Corvette and descends to Earth. Strangely, he only deploys a parachute after he lands.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A variation occurs in Dark Star: After the eponymous spaceship is destroyed, Lt. Doolittle uses a surfboard-shaped piece of debris to "surf" down towards an unstable planet, dying as a falling star.
  • The original cut of Star Trek: Generations started out with a retired Kirk, Scotty, and Chekov space diving just because they're bored.
  • In the Star Trek reboot film Kirk and Sulu drop from orbit onto the Narada's drill to disable it, but fail to stop Vulcan's destruction.

    Literature 
  • In Allen Steele's Orbital Decay, it's mentioned early on that the space station has some personal heat sheilds, although even the manufacturer admits that it's more likely to kill you than save you. At the end, a near-suicidal Popeye takes one and bails out.
  • In Tobias Buckell's Sly Mongoose, Pepper flees a zombie-infested ship with a spacesuit, a handmade heat shield taken from a zombie, and a hand rocket. He discovers too late that a parachute wasn't included in the kit. If he weren't a cyborg killing machine the landing would have been very fatal.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who In "The Name of the Doctor" the Doctor and Clara get to the planet Trenzalore by orbiting it, then turning off the TARDIS engines and letting gravity take its course.
  • Lexx: Kai has been dramatically altered after his death and so can de-orbit onto the planet the hard way. The thing is, he has to aim carefully otherwise some of his subsystems could reorient causing... problems.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Classic Traveller magazine The Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society #11 article "The Atmospheric Re-entry Kit". The title device is a foamed ablative shield that can be used by a single person to achieve re-entry into a planetary atmosphere and land safely. It includes a de-orbit thruster, a parachute and a sighting device/computer that computes the correct re-entry angle and thruster usage.

    Video Games 
  • This is frequent in the Halo series.
    • In Halo 3, Chief has to make an impromptu evacuation from a landing ship. He leaps out and falls from low orbit, using a door as a drag shield, and lands stunned for some hours, but still alive. Johnson finds him and lampshades Chief's tendency to keep doing this.
      Johnson: Crazy fool, why do you always jump? One of these days you're gonna land on something as stubborn as you are!
    • In Halo: Reach, the protagonist makes a fall from orbit (with the aid of a re-entry pack) after their escape ship has its thrusters too damaged for flight.
      Jorge: Well, I've got good news and bad news. [...] The only way off this slag heap is gravity.
      Six: And the good news?
      Jorge: That was the good news.
    • Master Chief makes one more drop from orbit in Halo 4 after his ship falls apart before he can reach the escape pods. Fortunately this time he has small thrusters on his suit he can use to slow his fall a bit.
    • Halo 5: Guardians opens with Fireteam Osiris leaping out a dropship from low orbit, falling until they land in an enemy filled valley, and promptly racking up a huge kill-count. Their suits do have thrusters, though.
  • Commander Shepard rides a piece of debris down in the very beginning of Mass Effect 2 after the destruction of the Normandy. Shep doesn't survive, however, and has to be revived by being literally reassembled from bits and pieces in a Cerberus lab.
  • In the end of Tribes: Vengeance, Julia is stranded on the Big Bad's spaceship as it makes an uncontrolled reentry and, naturally, starts falling apart. Being the badass she is, however, she surfs the falling debris all the way to the surface, jumping off to the next one just as the piece she's currently on burns up.

    Web Comics 

    Real Life 
  • Means of accomplishing this, such as the MOOSE and Paracone concepts, have been developed, though none have ever been adopted for actual use.

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