back to article iPad SURVIVES FALL FROM SPACE

Rugged case manufacturer G-Form sought to prove its hardware protection credentials this week, launching an iPad into space before letting it plummet to Earth. Needless to say, the fondleslab survived the fall - we probably wouldn't write the story otherwise. The company wrapped an iPad in its Extreme Edge case and, using a …


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  1. Mondo the Magnificent

    Oh yes you would!

    To quote ElReg: "Rugged case manufacturer G-Form sought to prove its hardware protection credentials this week, launching an iPad into space before letting it plummet to Earth. Needless to say, the fondleslab survived the fall - we probably wouldn't write the story otherwise"

    Yes you would, the headline would read:

    "iPad falls from space and breaks into a gazillion pieces!"

    Not because the fondleslab didn't survive the fall, but because it was actually in space!

    1. ratfox
      Paris Hilton

      Shirley he meant...

      The guys doing the test would never have told anybody about it?

      1. LarsG


        But would it survive being shot!

    2. Steve Knox


      G-Form probably wouldn't have told anyone about this if their case had failed to protect the iPad.

    3. miknik

      “As far as we know, this is the first iPad ever in space”

      Thom Cafaro obviously isn't an El Reg regular

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'd expect

      something more along the lines of "Ultra-durable iPad can only be destroyed by DROPPING IT FROM SPACE".

  2. TheOtherHobbbes

    That'll be really useful

    if I ever need to drop an iPad from a great height.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

      Like the BOFH might

      But then he would let it drop on something soft (the head beancounter, the head of IT, the Boss, or the CEO, or anyone else who had got in the way of his plans (or just ticked him off)).

  3. jai

    So you should mount an iPad in your LOHAN craft and then could use Facetime to stream the video in real time :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Would that be over the

      100km WiFi connection they have, or using a spaceborne 3G network?

      If it's either of them, they could save a LOT of cash and use almost any 3G phone from the last 10 years to do the same thing...

  4. John Arthur
    Thumb Down

    Terminal velocity

    So what is the terminal velocity of the iPad in one of these cases? Probably fairly low as the case is presumably light and we all know the iPad is too. So dropping it from only 50 feet up might get it striking the Earth at the same speed anyway. Might even save wrecking a perfectly serviceable balloon as well. Sighs...

    1. Jad

      RE: Terminal velocity

      but as they say, where's the fun in that?

      I noticed that they designed it so that it came down on the back of the case, not on the glass front, which I'm guessing requires a reasonable height to get right (not so useful from your lap to a granite floor)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        They obviously use Toast Technology(tm), you know, the stuff that always makes it land sticky side down? Simples!

    2. Steve Evans


      I can only assume you're not familiar with the what would fall faster, a cannon ball or a feather saying?

      Long and short of it is weight has nothing to do with it. Everything is subject to gravity, which with no external forces, will accelerate an object at 9.81m/s/s towards the earth. The external forces relevant in this situation would be friction, which can be greatly enhanced by the addition of a parachute, or even covering the case in deep pile carpet.

      1. LaeMing

        Weigh has nothing to do with it all-else being equal.

        In an atmosphere, wind resistance to surface area DOES make a difference, which is why the hammer-and-feather thing was demonstrated on the moon - try it in your living room or off your balcony and you won't get the same result. That is what 'terminal velocity' is all about. If you want the cannonball thing to work down here, you need to pair it up with a same-size sphere of balsa wood (or polystyrine these days is even better).

        Interesting asside: a mouse can fall (relatively) safely from any height as its terminal velocity is well below the point at which is would suffer major damage from hitting the ground.

        1. Steve Evans

          Which is what I said...

          Weight does not come into it... Gravity on Earth accelerates the objects at 9.81m/s/s.

          Friction acts in the opposite direction, against gravity.

          Surface area is relevant (because of the friction from the air), weight isn't...

          You can test it on earth, you just do it in a vacuum to remove the friction component.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            Friction is not the opposite of gravity. We didn't get to the moon by the power of friction

          2. ratfox

            @Steve Evans: Sorry, weight does very much come into it

            Terminal velocity is attained when the force of gravity is equal to the force of friction (i.e. the sum of forces is zero). It is correct that the force of friction does not depend on weight. However, the force of gravity does depend on weight – and so a heavy object will have to fall faster for both forces to be equal. Since the force of friction is roughly proportional to the square of speed, an object that is say four times heavier with the same surface will have a terminal velocity twice as fast.

            That is, terminal velocity is the solution of the speed variable in this equation:

            9.81 * weight = constant * surface * speed^2

            1. Lallabalalla

              Mathematically, terminal velocity—without considering buoyancy effects—is given by

              Vt = Root( 2mg / (pACd) )


              Vt = terminal velocity,

              m = mass of the falling object,

              g = acceleration due to gravity,

              Cd = drag coefficient,

              ρ = density of the medium through which the object is falling, and

              A = projected area of the object.

              1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

                @Steve Evans, LaeMing and a host of others

                FFS, is this really a techie forum?????????????????????

                In scientific usage weight and mass are fundamentally different attributes; mass is an intrinsic property of matter and weight is a force that results from the action of gravity on mass.

                Since Force = mass x Acceleration, Weight = mg, where g is the acceleration due to gravity and is measured in Newtons, mass

                A falling object is therefore accelerating towards the earth and will continue to do so at initially 9.81 m/s squared. The object be subject to aerodynamic drag (a vector force) in the opposite direction of the acceleration. Drag applies as a log law (go twice as fast and you experience 4 times the drag) and so rises exponentially until the object reaches terminal velocity at which point it will be experiencing a drag (force) which will equal their weight (force).

                This drag force is aerodynamic drag and includes form drag (high, iFad is a flat non-aerodynamic surface perpendicular to the airflow), skin friction (low on a nice shiny iFad), interference drag (low because it is a simple shape with propriety rounded corners) and induced or vortex drag (high, see form drag).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Terminal velocity, enquiring minds need to know

      Before we can calculate the airspeed velocity

      Was it the European iPad and was it fully laden?

      1. Ian Michael Gumby

        No wonder why you posted as AC

        Cant even get the joke straight ...

        Was it African or European....

      2. Simon Harris


        I don't know that


    4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Theoretical marketing theory proven at 1 SIGMA :0

    So let me get this clear, you can state something about a product you make and sell and then later on after you have sold some, go onto prove what you said. This is why I'll never do well in buisness. Marketing, law I have a grasp on but this theoretical marketing is something I admit is over my head.

    What next, pen's and notebooks that don't need cases to survive this test, whatever next.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      LIC, Large Idiot Collider

      We need to do research into theoretical marketing, I propose we make the marketing department run around in opposing circles and then steer them into each other so we can examine the deb....

      Wait, no, so we can all record it and post it to youtube.

  6. SkippyBing

    100,000 feet != Space

    It's only 30.48Km which is well short of the 100Km used by the FAI or the 50NM used by NASA for the award of Astronaut wings (there's about 4 miles difference between the two).

    It's bad enough people in marketing have redefined the meaning of 'unlimited' don't let them get away with any more abuses.

    1. LaeMing

      Mixing imperial and metric never did NASA any harm.

      Oh wait....!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real test is will it survive baggage handlers?

    1. K. Adams

      ... or overzealous Blendtec engineers?

      Let's see how the case stands up to one of these:

      -- -- YouTube: Blendtec Channel: Will it Blend?

      -- -- -- --

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Space at 100k feet?!

    Uhh... I don't think so. A generally accepted standard is the Karman Line, which is a rough approximation of the point below which "significant lateral thrust would be keep a craft flying level" (from 'Where Does Space Begin?' on Slate). That altitude is 100 kilometers. If Google is to be believed, that works out to 328,083.99 feet.

    NASA determines whether you're an astronaut (which it seems would apply to iPads as well as badasses) by using the 100km figure above. The USAF, generously, considers you an astronaut if you've gone up a mere 80km - but that's still far above 100,000 feet.

    Not only that, the SR71 Blackbird had a *service ceiling* (normal operating range) of 85,000 feet.

    And a final thought - a balloon can only support an object if it can 'float' on the air around it. A balloon, by definition, can't leave the atmosphere any more than a rubber duck can float to the top of the tub water and keep on going until it's hovering. Ye cannae change tha laws'a'physics.

    So we have problems:

    A: At absolute best, the balloon could 'float on the surface of space'. If you want to get really pedantic, that disqualifies any claims immediately - the iPad is hanging below the balloon, ergo it can't be in space. But that's not necessary...

    A: By definition you can't stick a balloon in space, as it will pop. Their balloon did not pop. It did not go into space.

    B: The atmosphere's border is gradual, not immediate, like the tub water. Something buoyant will float up to a certain point and stay there; it's 'surface' is dependent on its lift. Have any mass at all? You won't get to the top; at some point your lift (unless you're a rocket) is going to go away, and that point will not be space.

    C: Remember, even helium has some mass. If you get to the point where the atmosphere is less dense than helium, as it must, the whole kit and kaboodle might as well be a brick. You want to get to space? Helium may be lighter than air, but I'm fairly sure it isn't lighter than nothing.

    So, there's no way in hell it's going to come even close to any commonly accepted definition of 'space'. And it didn't - far less than half by the most generous definition, and less than a third by the most common.

    I'm not surprised about the case manufacturer - playing fast and loose with the facts is a treasured tradition of marketing - but I'm a bit surprised that El Reg just gave them a free pass. If someone from the US issued a press release saying that they had driven an electric car "coast-to-coast on one charge, all the way to Chicago!", you'd be all over it like a cheap suit. So I'm disappointed that you didn't jump on -this-.

    1. Mike Flugennock

      re: Space at 100k feet?

      "I'm not surprised about the case manufacturer - playing fast and loose with the facts is a treasured tradition of marketing..."

      Seriously... it would've been equally impressive -- not to mention truthful -- if they'd simply stated that an iPad in one of their cases survived a drop from 100k feet, perhaps mentioning in that context the operational ceiling of such craft as the SR71 or the X15.

      1. SkippyBing

        Re the X-15

        That did actually go into space and the pilots controlling it when it did earned astronaut wings, apart from the civilian as the FAA don't issue any.

    2. Steve Renouf

      Terminal Velocity... just that. Once you reach the height at which you (or some object) will be travelling at terminal velocity before you (the object) will hit the ground, it really doesn't matter how much higher you go - you are not going to hit the ground any harder, so it's really just a bit academic whether it was space or not!

    3. Phil Bennett


      While I agree with you on the main thing (100,000 feet isn't space), I've got to point out that:

      A) their balloon did, in fact, pop and

      B) depending on friction, having a more defined boundary and surface tension, you could get the duck to "hover" - it'll still have a bit of velocity when acceleration drops to zero, so it'll pop out of the tub and fall back under gravity. Let go of a closed empty plastic bottle at the bottom of a swimming pool and watch it fly!

    4. Gary F

      If it were in space there would be no air and therefore...

      The shreds of balloon wouldn't have flapped around immediately after it burst if it were in space because there would be no air to cause turbulence.

  9. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Thumb Down


    Give it to my boss for abuse testing. He is on his third iPad 2 in as many months.

  10. Mike Flugennock

    Fell from space? Eeehhhhh... sorta kinda maybe

    100,000 ft = approx 18ish miles, still below the FAI definition of where "space" starts, iirc.

    Needless to say, re-entry heating and dynamic stresses were probably minimal, if any -- if you can even call what the encased iPad went through "re-entry".

    A more accurate headline would've been "iPad SURVIVES FALL FROM WICKED-ASSED HIGH ALTITUDE".

    Now, if an ISS crewman using an iPad for some function while on EVA accidentally let it get away from him and drift out of reach -- like that toolbag during a Shuttle EVA recently -- _that_ iPad would have absolutely FALLEN FROM SPACE, although not surviving as it would've had no high-impact case around it, and would be re-entering at about Mach 25ish.

  11. bitten

    Nice, but can you kill someone with a random ipad throw?

  12. All names Taken

    Thanks but rather not (if it's all the same and so forth etcetera ... )

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've flown on Concorde

    The "edge of Space" is 100,000 feet and has been since since at least 1984. According to BA and the RAF.

    I myself don't believe that. Although the Earth *does* look like an orange as seen through my living room window.

    1. SkippyBing

      Just because the marketeers at BA say 100,000 feet is the edge of space doesn't mean it is, they're an airline not an aviation authority. I also can't find any reference in AP3456* to space starting at 100,000 feet so the RAF don't seem to be saying that either.

      *RAF Manual of Flying

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I did say ...

        That I didn't believe it. Not then and certainly not now.

  14. mraak


    Oh, I'm sure some Samsung Android fondleslab can do even better. I think I read somewhere it survived 200k feet drop.

  15. Silverburn


    Forget this edge of space crap. A drop of 30cm was all it took on my gen 1 to crack the glass. Then again, anything that survives more than 10mins with a 2 yr old is definitely worth a look.

  16. Haku

    Apple publicity stunts

    The next time some marketing hack comes up with the idea of putting an Apple (or any other "must have") product into space, can we send them instead of the object, *without any oxygen tanks*, so we can stop this bloody "first in space" nonsense.

  17. Gio Ciampa

    Control experiment?

    Someone chuck an uncased iPad from the same height - and see if the headline can get any less accurate.

    I'll be opening the "how many pieces" sweepstake in the morning

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Couldn't have been

    anything to do with that big metal bar sticking out that it was attached to, could it?

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Our widget survived a 100km drop

    Marketing droid: "Our widget survived a drop of one hundred thousand meters!"

    Reporter: "Amazing! How did you accomplish that?"

    Engineer in background: "We dropped it from one hundred thousand and one meters."

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    iPhone fell 1000 feet and lived eh?

    Mine fell 4 feel in a super market and shattered. That was a 3GS, not the new one that lands "buttered side down" all the time with glass on both sides.

    There's generally 2 types of iPhones: Ones in a case, and ones with shattered screens.

    Gorilla glass is still glass.

  21. samalie

    100,000ft != Space

    Um, hate to burst your bubble El Reg, but 100,000ft isn't even 1/3 of the way to "Space"

    The commonly accepted altitude is 100km, or 62mi, which works out to approximately 325,000ft.

    For shame. Bad Reg! Bad!

  22. Matthew Smith


    So they dropped a weight of a couple of kilograms from the edge of space, and hoped there was no one stood underneath when it hit. A bit dodgy.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The camera also didn't break

    and presumably that wasn't in one of their cases.

  24. Ben Suffolk


    Notice how the GPS tracker made sure the iPad dropped on its back, thus saving the screen from hitting a rock. Still pretty impressive though.

  25. Sloth


    iPad survives fall from space allegedly unscathed, my iPhone falls 2ft from my bed and cracks the glass. fml.

  26. stsr505089

    Space ?

    Questionable whether 100,000 feet can be classified as space or not. There must be some atmosphere otherwise the balloon wouldn't float. It could be argued that the ISS isn't in space either since it flies through very thin atmosphere.......

  27. CraPo

    So did the GoPro (or at least the SD card). You don't hear them crowing about it though!

  28. Simon Waddington

    A case of pickiness

    Isn't it more impressive that the camera survived the same fall...without the protective case...and continued filming...?

  29. Dave 62

    must contain letters and numbers

    I can't help but think the f**k off metal bar and chunky plastic majigger stuck on the back might have taken the brunt of the impact.

  30. Scott Hopper

    Not so impressed.

    I think it would have been a more impressive event if the entire rig had busted apart into uncountable pieces. As it was, the camera came out just as operational as the iPad. Who made the case for that? The bar that was holding the two together sure seemed strong. Was it bent by the impact? Who made that? What about the thing (accelerometer) that was wrapped around the iPad? That seemed to come out in pretty good condition, though they didn't demonstrate it's operational status before or after the fall. And really, if it was an accelerometer, why not use the iPad's? Or is that a different kind of accelerometer? You want to impress me? Calculate it's terminal velocity (call Mythbusters if you need help), drop someone out of a plane with a parachute, and try to hit a target with the iPad in it's case alone. With that long arm, it almost helicoptered to the ground, slowing it's decent. I guarantee you it would have fallen faster without the excess wind resistance. And, with all that other crap attached to it, the force of the landing was distributed across the whole structure. A net book of approximately equal weight would have survived that fall. What a croc.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby


      Maybe the camera was in a rig w a parachute?

      Naw they would never think about that...

  31. Anonymous Coward


    I agree with the coward above me, had that metal bar not been there and had it landed screen first it would have been destroyed.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Also worth pointing out that the go-pro (camera) survived with no problem.

    And that the remnants of the balloon acted as a drogue 'chute

  33. Trib

    I noticed that the camera on the bar also surrived the fall (from all of the video they showed from it) and it didn't appear to have a G-Form case on it, so the real question is would the iPad surived like the camera did without the case.

    Also putting the GPS tracker on the back side of the case so you know it will fall on it back probably help a lot as well, so you now the the iPad isn't landing on its edge.

  34. PaulWizard

    Something doesn't quite add up here

    Unless I'm mistaken they sent the thing up switched on and it returned to the ground still working?? Forget the actual drop and impact for a moment and consider the temperature. According to apple the operating temperature is 0° to 35° C, non operating -20° to 45° C ( and according to scientific observation the temperature at > 87,000ft is below -40 on average ( unless I'm reading it wrong). I take it this wasn't an independent test.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Maybe it was a hot day.

  35. P. Lee

    Sycamore effect?

    Why wouldn't you just use the ipad's camera?

  36. json

    Im more impressed with cam

    .. didnt seem to have any protection at all.

  37. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Up


    Also a great advert for the GoPro camera that took most of the footage (visible near the end of the film) - not only did it survive the fall and continue filming, it functioned without problems at the high altitude - and that was in the stock casing, not something fancy!

  38. Ted Treen

    I would have commented...

    ...but I've been shattered by the terminal verbosity...

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