21 November 2016

FWS Forgotten Classics: OUTLAND (1981)


Since the founding of FWS back in 2010, people have reached out to me to discuss this film, despite it not falling within the core mission of FWS. However, Outland is one of my favorite "forgotten" sci-fi films of the 1980's and I never need much of an excuse to discuss films. Back in 1989, I would see this film along with ALIEN, BLADE RUNNER, and ALIENS. The primary reason behind my brother and I renting this sci-fi film one fateful summer afternoon was partly due to a company called the Intergalactic Trading Company. Back in the 1980's, prior to the internet, companies gave away free catalogs in the back of magazines targeted to a certain audience, and the ITC appeared in the back of the old Starlog magazine. I ordered one around the time that the Galoob ST:TNG toyline was coming out, and in the many pages of the catalog were all of these products for sci-fi TV shows and movies I'd never seen. I would use this old catalog as a list to explore new sci-fi. One of the pages devoted to sci-fi patches and a number were from some movie called Outland, and the next time my mother took us to Aardvark Video in Bartlesville, we rented this forgotten classic, which was forgotten even then. Outland became a favorite of mine, and it is my hope that you seek it out after this article.

What is Outland?
Director Peter Hyams was best known for the government space cover-up film Capricorn One when he desired greatly to write and direct a western. However, he was given advice to avoid the Western genre due to a downturn in popularity of Western movies and that he should direct a sci-fi film instead. With that set burning desire,  he took the bones and guts of 1952’s High Noon and set it on a mining station on the Jovian moon of Io with Sir Sean Connery taking the place of Gary Cooper. The setting is the Conglomerates Amalgamated number 27 mine that pulls titanium out of the violent inner moon of Jupiter: Io.  
Over 2,000 miners, company employees, contractors, and even a team of Federal law enforcement officers call the bleak metal world of Con-Am 27 home. Just arriving at the station is Federal Marshall William O’Neil is assigned to a tour on Con-Am 27 after stirring up trouble on his last assignment. He brings along his wife and son, who has never seen Earth. The barely civilize conditions of Con-Am 27 deeply trouble O’Neil’s wife. Soon after the film starts, she leaves and takes her son to wait for William on the massive Jupiter transfer station. In a video message, she tells him of her love and how their son needs a chance to see the Earth.  Alone and facing a mystery of dead miners, O’Neil begins to dig and he finds a rotten core at the heart of Con-Am 27. Then the adventure really begins... 

The Historical Context of Outland
Prior to the emergence of Star Wars in 1977, science fiction cinema was mostly confined to B grade films (if you were lucky) aimed at weirdos and teenagers. There were only a handful of serious films set within the sci-fi genre like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, the Day the Earth Stood Still, and Forbidden Planet. Once Star Wars stormed into theaters, the sci-fi that used to exist was to be never more.  In the land rush that followed to cash in on the sci-fi fever, films were greenlit that would have never been prior to 1977. One of these was ALIEN over at 20th Century Fox and its overall design and mood influence the other side of the sci-fi revolution that was darker and more realistic that say the interior of the USS Enterprise.
Films like BLADE RUNNER and of course, Outland were born out of ALIEN. With the set design and director all mirror queues from Ridley Scott. When it comes to Sir Sean Connery being in the film, we have to remember that Sir Connery at the time was attempting to break away from his identity as 007 and that iconic performance.  That seems he endeavored to take on more roles separating him from Bond…that includes Outland and Zardoz. Fortunately, Sir Connery’s other roles became increasingly improved with films like The Hunt for the Red October, Bridge Too Far, Untouchables, and Wind and the Lion. Also at this time, the phenomenon and social behavior of renting films at the local video shop was just starting to take shape, but not in time to grant more attention to underappreciated films, like Outland.

Why was Outland Forgotten?
After Star Wars took the world by storm, the public's appetite for science fiction increased wildly, and businesses of all types attempted to cash in on the hot trend. Films were one of the key areas where there was an explosion in science fiction works. Some of these films that came out of this period were very good and some were really damn cheesy, but there were others that existed that took time for the audience to find them and appreciate...often many years later on VHS rental shelves.
This is the case with BLADE RUNNER and it is also the case with Outland. Many cinema patrons that were laying down their money wanted to see space battles, lasers beams, and cool aliens...not a world-weary federal marshal on a corporate mining station on Io where the apex of the film is not a laser sword duel or a battle between starships, but an Old West style encounter with modern shotguns. It did not help matters that Outland was slow on pacing, realistic in style, and hard-edged in its depiction of life in outer space complete with drugs, depression, and prostitution.
This made Outland a science fiction that shared more in common with thrillers and Westerns like High Noon than Star Wars or Star Trek, and this made the film an outcast, condemning it to barely making back its money and being lost in the sea of sci-fi films that came out in the landrush of studios attempting to capitalize on the popularity of the genre. It did not help that the reviews of the film were very mixed and while the film opened strongly due to it being sci-fi and starring Sean Connery, the word-of-mouth started to slow down ticket sales.

Why is Outland a Classic of Science Fiction?
Within any trend is a number of different works that become classics of the trend, but for different reasons and at different points within the trend's life cycle. Let us consider sci-fi film and television. There is often the prelude or the harbinger of the incoming trend, like Star Trek or The Twilight Zone, the primary example of the trend, which would be Star Wars, the copycats that come shortly after, like Starcrash, then there is the later classic of the trend that goes beyond the original classic work and shifts the trend towards something else, like ALIENS or Star Trek: TNG...then there is the outsiders that take the trend and twists it. This is where BLADE RUNNER, ALIEN, and Outland live and this is often a hard place to exist.  This made Outland something special and unique combined with a great performance from Connery and the rest of the cast. This unique vision by Peter Hyams and product designer Philip Harrison gave Outland a great used world to inhabit and setting it apart that looks and feels more like BLADE RUNNER than a Federation starship.

The Impact and Legacy of Outland

Outland was well received by critics, but it was not a popular film in the theaters of 1981 due to audience's expecting another Star Wars and not a plotting realistic space western that rose to a slow boil. This limited its impact on the wider world of sci-fi cinema. However, it did make its money back with some profit. Most praise gravitated toward the set design, the recycling of the themes from High Noon in an outer space setting, and the performance of the main cast; especially Sir Sean Connery.  To some, Outland ranked up there with BLADE RUNNER and ALIEN for wider impact on the “look” and “feel” of more realistic science fiction cinematic settings. This is due to the fantastic set and production design by Phillip Harrison that acted in concert with Peter Hyams style.
However, the film was lost in the sea of sci-fi film releases, and it was banished to memory and dusty VHS rental shelves by the mid-80's. Back in the pre-internet dark ages, the VHS box counted for a great deal in selling the film to the wandering eye. Outland had two major things going for it: Sir Sean Connery and Peter Hyams. Some would discover this film via word of mouth or by the led actor’s and director’s other credits. Sean Connery was featured in other cult films, like Highlander and fucking Zardoz that allowed renters to see Outland mentioned in Connery’s name…this made some curious enough to track it down.
The same was true for the director Peter Hyams who helm'ed the very solid 2010: The Year We Make Contact and Outland was mentioned on the back of the box, causing (again) people to hunt down the 1981 space western. Of course, the easiest way for people to discover this space western in the sea of VHS tapes at the rental store was by simply scouring the science fiction section of their local video store and see Sir Sean Connery holding a shotgun with Jupiter looming behind. If that doesn't get you to rent it out of curiosity, I don't know what it would take! In the age of the Internet and the phalanx of DVD releases, Outland would get mentioned when its DVD and Blu-ray editions were released. Also helping keeping the fire keep burning was the internet review culture. Given that internet movie critics need unique and forgotten films to review and attract views, films like Outland are discussed on sites like FWS and even in Youtube.com videos like this one. However, Outland remains less well known than most of Sir Sean Connery's post-Bond films along with other 1980's sci-fi films. When it comes to the film's legacy, it is often discussed more on a micro scale than macro given the lack of impact of the film at the time of its 1981 release. The individuals that love or respect this film feel that it resonated the trend of more hard-boiled sci-fi world than presented in Trek/Wars, and that ranks among the best of 1980's sci-fi cinema. Speaking to some of the legacy of Outland, there has been rumors of a remake for years with increased chatter about a remake around 2009 with director Michael Davis. However, nothing has happened since those initial rumors thank the Lords of Kobol...this film needs to remain what it is: a special gem of 1980's sci-fi cinema.

The Heavy Metal 1981/1982 Outland Comic Adaptation 
One method of advertising a film that could expand the audience and growing interest was the comic adaptation. Such classic sci-fi films like DUNE, BLADE RUNNER, and even Star Trek: TMP were adapted for the comic page by some of the biggest comic publishers like Marvel. Outland would receive its comic book adaptation with a serialized presentation in the iconic Heavy Metal magazine. From July to October 1981 then completed in January of 1982, the story, action, world of Outland was presented in wonderful rich art by Jim Steranko. One of my favorite blogs, PorPor Books presented the comic adaptation here.

The Only Gun of Outland: the Browning 2000 Shotgun
So, why was a 12 gauge shotgun the only weapon seen in Outland? The director has been quoted that since the film was based off of High Noon, that laser guns would be out of place. Fans have also conjured up some in-universe explanations. Shotguns would be effective in space warfare by shredding the space suit of their opponent. In close quarters engagements inside the sealed habitats, special shotgun shell loads would not pierce the walls of the sealed environment...which would have created a real problem! 
Given the time period that the film was made, 1981, it makes sense for a law enforcement officer to carry a shotgun. This before the modern rise of law enforcement officers carrying assault rifles and the shotgun was the official "shit-as-hit-the-fan" weapon of choice. Some have suggested online and to me that the Browning 2000 series shotgun was the inspiration for the original pump single-barreled shotgun from DOOM. While there some basic similarities in design, we know that most of the weaponry in the original DOOM game came from toy guns bought in Austin during the design phase of that classic game. The Space Marine shotgun comes from the Tootsie Toy Dakota cap shotgun, not the Browning 2000 from Outland. Pity that would have made for a great story! 
The shotgun itself is a Browning semi-automatic 2000 series 12 or 20 gauge shotgun that was imported from Belgium (most of the parts were made in Portugal) from 1974 to around 1981 or 1983. About 115,000 were brought to US shores, but it was not a great seller for the company with the A5 model being more popular. Today, the Browning 2000 is relatively unknown and sells for about $200-$500. 
There was only one real steel Browning 2000 purchased for the production and it was saw-off and cut-down for use in the close quarter’s conditions of Con-Am 27 mining station.  During the final showdown between O’Neil and the two highly paid assassins, that one hero prop was worked overtime on double duty since there was just one hero shotgun. The only different between the Marshal's Browning 2000 and the assassins' Browning 2000 was the futuristic scope setup. Other shotguns seen in the hand or on an armor rack were either other shotguns stunt doubles. Interestingly enough, some of the promotion art for the film featuring Sir Sean Connery holding a more traditional pump shotgun, not the Why was the Browning 2000 chosen over other shotguns of the time? The classic sci-fi steel shotgun, the Frenchi SPAS-12, did not arrive on US shores until 1982, and I believe that the production chose the Browning 2000 because it does look different than more traditional shotguns, especially when cut down and saw-off. Outland is the only film to include the Browning 2000 shotgun. 

The LADD Company Connection
At the very beginning of BLADE RUNNER, there is this logo of a tree being assembled line-by-line in a very computerized manner with a rather mesmerizing little musical number playing. In bold red words under the roots of the "computer green" tree is "The LADD Company in associating with Sir Run Run Shaw". This married perfectly with the opening of that iconic 1982 cyberpunk film and it added another dimension to the opening of the film. Outland bears the opening logo without the addition of Sir Run Run Shaw, and it made me smile the first time I watched Outland giving it a connection to my favorite film. The LADD Company film production was founded by American Alan Ladd Jr., former president of 20th Century Fox, and it started strong but slipped into financial ruin with the expensive box office failure of The Right Stuff. I've always rather liked the theme that accompanied the LADD Company logo that is something sepcial and it feels me with nostalgia and wonder that is forever cemented with BLADE RUNNER and those dangerous days of 2019 Los Angeles.
 
Next Time on FWS...
After the first use of atomic weapons in the 2nd World War by the United States, the race has been on by other nations to gain their own weapons of mass destruction. All of this has added up to the world being under the shadow of the mushroom cloud. Now with Russia talking and preparing for nuclear war with NATO, it is high time for FWS to discuss atomic, nuclear, neutron, hydrogen weapons of mass destruction. So Duck and Cover for this!


15 November 2016

FWS News Feed: 15 years ago...HALO: Combat Evolved is Released

Today is one of the most important dates in military science fiction history: the original HALO game, Combat Evolved is released for the original Xbox console in 2001. This game became a worldwide phenomenon that altered video games, the gaming culture, and the entire genre of military science fiction forever. No one knew or predict that this little first-person futuristic shooter on a brand new home video game console would become a franchise worth billions....Especially me. Oddly, the first time I heard of HALO: Combat Evolved was due to a television advertisement for the game during an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise. Little did I know that what I was watching would alter my life and give rise to FWS. Despite the many other HALO games that have come out via Bungie and 343 Industries over three generations of home consoles, the original 2001 game continues to be ranked as the best of the series, especially in my mind. Not only is my favorite video game, but is the best military SF video game of all time. Back in 2001, I did not own an original Xbox until a few years after the launch of HALO: CE...it would take a home robbery for me in 2004 to convert over to the true faith. I took some of the insurance money around Xmas of 2004 and bought the last original Xbox at Ridgemar Mall in Fort Worth. I bought the massive black box along with ROBOTECH: Battle Cry and HALO: CE. For that first moment I played it, it altered my life and rekindled my love of military science fiction. So, today, dig out your original Xbox and your original copy of HALO: CE and settle into this classic.          

11 November 2016

FWS Topics: Space Drop Paratroopers and Drop Pods/Capsules



"Feet First into Hell!", that is the motto of the HALO universe UNSC ODST Helljumpers. These specialized soldiers are trained in the unique combat skill of dropping onto a planetary surface from space in personal drop-pods, and they are almost as iconic as the SPARTANs of HALO. They also carrying on an important tradition in science fiction: the concept of Space-Drop Infantry or "Spaceborne". These orbital parajumpers  is one that is common throughout sci-fi, and is even being researched by military organizations for realistic real-world applications. In some ways, these futuristic warfighters that drop from star-side to dirt-side are very linked to the brave airborne soldiers of the 2nd World War and Korea along with current Special Operations soldiers. In this blogpost, FWS will examining the sci-fi space-drop soldier and their tools of the trade: the drop-pod along with digging into the sci-fi vision of space paratroopers and why the genre of science fiction is so obsessed with these elite soldiers. For the purposes of this blogpost, we will be using multiple terms for space drop paratroopers. This blogpost does not preclude future one detailing Airborne operations in the near future.

The Forerunner: The Military Parachute Infantry
Before we discuss space parajumpers leaping out of orbital spacecraft or being fired out of starships encased in drop pods and raining death from above to alien enemies, we have to examine why military organizations use parachute infantry. Airborne units were developed to deploy specially trained light assault infantry on mass rapidly from an airplane to assault certain objectives behind enemy lines as a prelude to a full-scale attack or conduct a low-profile Special Operations mission. The key advantage of Airborne units is their ability to get to an objective that would be inaccessible via overland transport and to rapidly hit the objective from the sky allows for greater shock-and-awe psychological effect on the enemy.
With the striking from the sky, paratrooper can (at times) avoid the defenses of the objective and overtake the enemy rapidly. This landing of paratroopers behind enemy lines is also a way to sow confusion and fear into the enemy as it appears that the enemy is all around them. Massive paratrooper drops are rarer now with air mobile assault units that use helicopters and tilt-rotors are more common, but there are still active Airborne units around the world. One of the common users of all types of parachuting methods is Special Operation Forces for clandestine insertions that allow for maximum speed and surprise.

What is are the "Spaceborne"?
Airborne paratroopers have been a fixture of modern warfare since around the 2nd World War with the first combat use of paratroopers coming in 1940 with the Fallschirmjagers seizing the Aalborg airfield in Denmark. These specialized light infantry units are often the vanguard of the main assault and tasked with holding or capturing highly valued targets. The science fiction space assault paratrooper is often deployed from an orbiting warship via a reentry suit or drop pod, and acts as rapid assault element, pathfinder, recon element, LZ securing force, or all four. Spaceborne soldiers, like their Airborne brethren, would be considered a branch of Special Operations with the selection and training to match the risky missions they would be called on to mount with limited resources and support.
With being a trained military parachutist a hallmark of elite soldiers around the globe, sci-fi creators often add the ability of their own fictional Special Operations units to conduct these types jumps. Often powered armor and mecha can be incorporated with these orbital drop pod soldiers to enhance their offensive power and survivability in those furious engagements. This could make the Spaceborne one of the few military units to be outfitted in such expensive equipment. At other times, there is no drop pod, and it seems more like a space free-fall dive. In its place, specialized armor or attachment can be used or worn for the Spaceborne assault troopers to make the drop, as seen with the M-Spec reentry pack from HALO: Reach and the orbital drop suit for the normal powered armor from Roughnecks: the Starship Troopers Chronicles. In the end, the Spaceborne trooper shares a great deal with the historic paratroopers of the 2nd World War, it is just that they have better toys, bigger balls, and they jump further up.

Other Terms for Space Drop Soldiers and Tactics:
  • Meteoric Assault
  • Orbital Skydive
  • Space Jumpers
  • Spaceborne
  • Space Paratroopers
  • Capsuleers
  • Drop-Troop
  • "Coffin Humpers"
  • Reentry Infantry
  • Space Assault 
  • Space-to-Planet Assault
  • Space Shot
  • Helljumpers
  • Reentry Infantry
  • Fallers
  • Orbital Assaulters
What are Drop-Pods?

In science fiction, there are several types of reentry vehicles used to ferry space assault troopers from space to ground without a landing craft (dropship). At their most basic, drop pods are just that, a single use reentry vehicle that is with limited flight capability for a single occupant or several that is designed to increase survivability of the paratroopers and to counter the atmospheric friction of reentry. These drop pods range in shape and sizes with some creators taking cues from real-world space capsules, like the Soyuz, Apollo, the NASA Orion, and the Dragon; while others are more capsule shaped, taking a cue from SST.
 Some have also compared sci-fi drop pods with the Gliders of World War II in terms of function and ability. Not all drop pods are single use, dumb flight modules. The Imperium Deathstorm drop pods, the ODST SOEIV, and the Covenant Type-53/Type-54 drop pods are shining examples of more complex drop pods with some being fitted with offensive and defensive systems, flight/VTOL capability, and computer or manual controls. A few of these even a multi-use…in theory. Often drop pods are packed with limited supplies to allow Spaceborne paratroops to keep up the fight to secure a landing zone so that reinforcements can arrive and expand the planetary invasion.

Other Terms for Drop Pods:
  • Drop Module
  • Drop Capsule 
  • Orbital Reentry Vehicle
  • Drop box
  • Coffin
  • Capsule
  • Egg
  • Reentry Sled
  • Drop Cocoon
  • Slip Pod
The Advantages of Space Drop Troops
When we examine the realities (hard science) of deploying soldiers via orbital reentry vehicles for combat operations on exo-planets of various environments there is one key advantage of using this method: economics. Military SF is deeply populated with dropships and tactical transports that ferry soldiers from ship-to-shore and back again...but that eats up time, resources, and fuel. Drop modules could be a "fire-and-forget" delivery system that easily gets a number of space marines down planet-side without the hassle of using combat space shuttles.
This is more economical for orbital warship and could rapid deploy en mass a number of soldiers to begin the planetary invasion operations faster than using transport vehicles. Of course, it could be more economical in terms of the price tag of drop capsules over tactical transports. For more low-profile missions, small reentry vehicles have been cited as a way to insert Special Operations units without alerting the locals. This largely depends on the sensor systems used by the enemy/target destination. Another advantage is the ability to "shoot-and-scoot". Dipping near the target planet, then launchung  a salvo of space marines via drop pods and then for the Roger Young to get the hell out of Dodge before orbital defenses or interceptors could attack the Roger Young while trapped in orbit.

The Disadvantages of Space Drop Troops
When we examine the hard science use of Spaceborne troopers for off-world warfare there are some issues. Dropping paratroopers inside a drop module from orbital distances is going to take them a good amount of time to cover that distance from orbit-to-surface. The current Russian Soyuz capsule, traveling at 20,000 MPH, takes about 20-30 minutes with temperatures reaching 4,000 degrees during the reentry phase. That is a great deal of time for enemy Tripe-A to intercept the speeding capsule(s) and slaughter the drop troopers prior to their landing. Some believe limiting the sensor profile of the reentry vehicle by using orbital reentry suit. This would require much more training and limit the number of soldiers capable or willing to commit to just such a jump and drop through the burning hell of reentry operations. Spaceborne paratrooper recruits would need balls and nerves of steel to brave that.
One issue associated with Airborne operations is the scattering of the paratroopers across the DZ creating a need to regroup and then assault the target. While this is lessened in modern jumps, it still is a risk and could be magnified by orbital drop distances. Reentry is always a risk, and as we tragically learned in 2003, any damage to the thermal protect can result in the loss of the vehicle and the crew. Dropping massive amount of paratroopers through the burning hell of the atmosphere can place any of occupants of the drop module to risk to a fate similar to the Columbia. This is why a shatter-shot of kinetic shot or Kitty Litter could result in counting a mass orbital drop.

The Realities and Feasibility of Space Drop Tactics
Space has been viewed has the ultimate high ground in warfare, and sci-fi as reflected this with orbital bombardment and space drop armies. While science fiction is packed with brave space marines being dropped dirt-side via drop pods and even some special suits, is this idea even feasibility or realistic? There several examples of actual experiments of beyond brave people jumping from the very upper limit of the atmosphere as seen with Red Bull’s Stratos project and the USAF Project EXCELSIOR. In addition to these real-world tests, there was also the early 1960’s MOOSE project that was envisioned has a means to save an astronaut via personal reentry system in case of critical vehicle damage while in orbit. This creates a somewhat realistic basis for space paratroopers and some real science behind the realities of space diving and capsule dropping. 
When it comes to the sci-fi drop capsule that shoots our brave space warriors from an orbiting warship down to the planetary combat zone to battle giant hostile bugs, there are actually currently used examples of space capsules in manned space programs. From the old Mercury to the long-used Soyuz Russian capsule, astronauts are “dropped” from the heavens back down to Mother Earth in either the oceans or the steppes of central Asia. This also forms a foundation for space drop capsule troopers. So, you could feasibility enact capsule and Spaceborne infantry as seen in science fiction, but the real question is should you? 
I firmly believe that unless the orbital drop tactic is critical to the mission and its objectives, future military organizations will use HALO and HAAO methods for inserting marines via tactical transports in the upper atmosphere. This is due to the length of time it takes to land space paratroopers from orbit to the ground, greater risk of thermal penetration of the reentry vehicle, and the extreme conditions of free-falling from that height generates. One place where space drop tactics could be more effective is on limited atmosphere planetary bodies or null atmospheric bodies like Luna. We could see more "soft suit" space diving onto the surface of an asteroid or a moon like Luna without the need for reentry thermal protection, making them much easier than landing forces through Class-M worlds. 

Is a Hybrid System the Answer?
Could we combine drop pods and space diving into a hybrid system that used the best of both worlds? In the pages of Starship Troopers, the thermal capsule  of the Mobile Infantry, the M2 Trojan, was an ablative protection and could be jettison, allowing the APS clad M.I. trooper to float down to the DZ via parachutes. This is likely how a one-person drop pods would be unitized: a reentry vehicle coupled with a parachute system. This would present one major issue: training. In a fully controlled drop module, the computer does the work and the soldiers are along for the ride, allowing for normally trained space marines to be orbit dropped without further training. In the hybrid/free-fall system, the space marines would have to be trained for that kind of jump, limiting the number of troops capable of making that kind of operation.

The Orbital Drop Reentry Suit
Another type of sci-fi drop module that protects the wearer from fury of reentry is the massive orbital drop suit. Seen in the American animation Starship Troopers television show, this giant CLASS-III protective suit encased an M.I. Trooper wearing CLASS-I powered armor and it was shed once the paratrooper reached the planetary DZ. Why the humanoid form of the orbital drop suit reentry armor seen in sci-fi? We can assume that the design was chosen to utilize the arms and feet once on the ground beyond it just being a reentry shell. This could be a type of heavy weapons support worn by the space paratroopers for the chaos of the dropzone, allowing the paratroopers a greater chance to capture and secure the DZ. This could be special suits for special missions rather than the common drop pod.

Project: HOT EAGLE and NASA MOOSE
There are two known military/space program projects to mimic the sci-fi space drop trooper concept: NASA’s MOOSE and DARPA/USMC Hot Eagle Project. For some time there has been continuous development of a spaceplane that will revolutionize global travel, allowing you to transverse the Earth in minutes. This opens up the possibility of rapid deployment via these spaceplanes and the rapid force in-place is the United States Marine Corps. There were two programs: SUSTAIN and HOT EAGLE. The goal of HOT EAGLE was using a spaceplane, like the hush-hush USAF X-37B or the Rutan/Virgin Starship One, to deliver team of Devil dogs anywhere in the world in two hours of flight time. 
The project is not dead official and appears to be operating at a low level. Another space diving system was originally designed for emergency reentry in case of loss of vehicle or space station by NASA. This bail-out system was designed around 1963 and was called Man Out Of Space Easiest. The idea was to shield the astronaut via an inflatable thermal barrier that is filled with polyurethane and use a small rocket motor to propel the astronaut into the atmosphere for reentry. There was never a real-world test of the MOOSE system save for a bridge jump into water test that was not much of a replication of the conditions to be experienced by an astronaut bailing out. There are no plans to modernize the MOOSE for the ISS.   

What Happens After the Drop?
Airborne infantry units are specially trained to carry out parachute operations combined with certain combat operations tailored to their talents and abilities as well. However, what happens AFTER the parachute drop? While airborne paratroopers are celebrated and featured for their bravery in jumping out of a perfectly good airplane and assaulting the enemy from within their own lines, a paratrooper may only make a few combat jumps in their entire military career. When the jump is complete and the paratroopers are in the field, they are treated as more or less normal combat infantry units by the command staff. It is highly likely the same would be true of Spaceborne forces. Once they assault through the atmosphere and hit dirt-side, they will be grouped into other ground units for continued combat operations by the command staff. It is unlikely that the spaceborne troopers would be shuttled up to orbit warships to mount fruther drop operations.

Powered Armor and the Orbital Drop Connection
Two foundational elements of military science fiction were laid down by Robert Heinlein's 1959 novel: powered armor infantry and space capsule deployment. This concept has endured to this day with even myself not being immune. In my own military SF novel featuring CLASS-II mecha being dropped planet-side via drop module. Why the connection? Full encased future soldiers in powered battle armor is a way to separate your future warfighters from contemporary soldiers and the same is true of dropping in paratroopers from orbit rather than from a few hundred or a few thousand feets in altitude. Much like many things in science fiction, where cars fly, guns shoot deadly light beams, and paratroopers land from outer space, it is all about taking everyday common elements and moving it up another peg. It is ice cream on the cake for those orbital paratroopers to be wearing powered armor and carrying laser blasters or be encased in mecha. We must really thank for this is Mr. Heinlein who gifted us both concepts wrapped in a continuously celebrated story of future war.

Why are Space Drop Paratroops so Popular in Sci-Fi?
When addressing the wide scale appearance of Spaceborne assault infantry and drop pods in science fictions in all forms of media, there are two likely answers: the "Rule of Cool" trope and the assumed tactical application of Airborne tactics to outer space wars. In most military organizations, one of the marks of elite forces is being an accomplished and certified combat parachutists with those tabs being worn proudly on their uniforms. As with all things related to Special Operations Forces, it makes paratroopers automatically cool and badass. Helping the case of paratroopers being cool in the minds of the general public is heroic and spectacular Airborne operations of military history, such as the Operation NEPTUNE and Operation ENTEBBE.You do not have to look further than Band of Brothers to see this in practice and the explosion in interest with  World War II Airborne afterward.
Part of this public fascination with paratroopers is due to their steel-hearted courage and ability to propel themselves willingly out of a perfectly good aircraft and fall towards the ground. Most normal civilians will not be willing jump out of an aircraft (I won't!), and often worship what they cannot or will not do themselves. This Rule of Cool applies to Paratroopers themselves who believe that legions of these specialized light infantry units dropping in from the sky is the tactical solution to a battlefield problem. This was true of the 101st Airborne's 187th Infantry Regiment, the "Rakkasans" involvement during Operation ANACONDA when the Rakkasan commander Wiercinski believed that his Airborne forces should fall from the sky and crush the skulls of AQ and Taliban forces in the valley (Death from Above!). Part of the reason for Wiercinski wanting this type of assault tactic comes from the Rakkasan history and tradition, this would allow another page to be added to their alushious combat history.
This brings us to the second answer to why Spaceborne forces are popular in science fiction: the assumed tactical application of Airborne light infantry tactics to off-world combat scenarios. While E.E. Doc Smith is the father of Space-Drop soldiers in his 1934 book Triplanetary, it was the use of military drop capsules from the original Starship Troopers novel that combined space diving with World War II/Korean War Airborne tactics that became a familiar trend in military sci-fi.
It is assumed by sci-fi creators that you can take Airborne tactics of dropping out of the sky (It's Raining Men!) and apply that to tactical situations on off-world battlefields. After all, these creators see that these daring tactics worked in World War II and that SOF units use jumping techniques like HALO and HAAO to great effect today in special operations missions. Adding to this assumed tactical application of Airborne tactics to the sci-fi Spaceborne troopers is a lack of study and research on why massive paratrooper drops are not as accepted by military planners as they were in the 2nd World War and the grim effect anti-air weaponry can reap on falling soldiers. Adding these two answer together has these badass space assault jumpers being incorporated into sci-fi works since 1934 due to the coolness factor and that death from above can be applied to combat in outer space due to historical examples of effective Airborne combat drops.

Science Fiction and the Space Drop Troopers/Drop Pods
One of the hallmarks of science fiction is retrofitting an item, social issue, or historical event into a sci-fi setting. Space drop soldiers and drop pods are a product of E.E. Doc Smith and Robert Heinlein taking parachuting, paratroopers, and Airborne tactics into a futuristic outer space setting. With  Triplanetary (1933) and Starship Troopers  (1959) introducing both concepts to the wider sci-fi audience, the idea of orbital diving space marines encased in drop capsules filtered into other works and became a hallmark of military science fiction.Throughout the 1960's we would see pulp sci-fi novels include space drop via specialized suits and drop modules. It helped the inclusion of drop pods that NASA and the Soviet space program were both using capsule-based spacecraft. Beginning in the late 1970's and really exploded in the 1980's was sci-fi wargames along with an increased amount of military SF. These products featured both concepts and even had plastic representations of both, like the 40K Imperium drop pod and the cover art of the Avalon Hill SST boardgame. Anime would also include these concepts as well, and all of this added up to Spaceborne and their drop pods being a go-to concept for future military units in literature, video games, and board games. Even today, drop pods are a popular item for 15mm future wargaming.
Live-action space paratroopers and drop pods are rare due to the special effects cost and they are more seen more recently with the cheaper cost of CGI SFX. One of the more recent harbingers of both concepts is the UNSC ODST Special Operations space assault unit that continues to be a fan favorites and even got their own game in 2009. Without a doubt with real-world space diving being in the news and with companies actively exploring the possible of mounting commercial space diving operations, the Spaceborne and their orbital reentry vehicles will endure in sci-fi.

Examples:

The UNSC ODST from The HALO Universe
While the Mobile Infantry of the SST universe are some of the most well-known and historic military space jumpers in sci-fi, the UNSC Space Operations Orbital Drop Shocktroopers from the HALO is one of the modern touchstone examples of the Spaceborne. Via their appearances in the core HALO games, the comics, and the books, there was also their 2009 standalone video game that was coupled with an amazing live-action trailer. Damn fine live-action military SF there! The UNSC developed the concept of the ODST unit going back to 2163 during a time of conflict and pocket wars on Earth and in the Sol system. After the Treaty of Callisto and rising problems on Terra caused the lack of need for a massive military organization and such went the way of the dormancy of the ODST SOF unit.
The concept of specialized space paratroopers was revived when the UNSC colonial civil wars emerged and since then, the ODST have been dropping feet first into hell via drop pods. The finest hour for the ODST divisions was the Human/Covenant War, where there thousands of special operations undertaken by the ODST during that long and bloody war. Not only were the ODSTs tasked with spaceborne assaults, but also boarding Terran vessels to purge the data on the location of Earth, under the Cole Protocol, along with being the special assault unit during planetary campaigns and were known to work closely with air vehicle crews.
This made the ODSTs not only a space-drop unit but also an air assault specialized infantry unit. Often, other UNSC SOF units were not in theater for planetary operations, causing the ODSTs to be the stop-gap. This deepened their skills and increased their sense of being badass operators. This has caused people like me to compare the ODSTs to the US Army 75th Ranger Regiment. During the war, they also worked with the new SPARTANs super-soldiers, serving as QRFs or extra muscle. Another dangerous task undertaken by the every expanding ODST divisions was the VBSS of alien spacecraft. This was considered their most daring and deadly mission. During the war and given their CQC engagements, several unique armaments were added to the ODST armory: the sound suppressed M7 PDW and the upgraded Magnum SOCOM pistol. Specialized gear was also seen in the body armor of the ODSTs that is rated for 15 minutes of EVA and of course, the SOEIV drop pod. After the war, the ODSTs were still critical for the unstable galaxy with the Helljumpers being used on special missions and being a recruitment pool for the new SPARTAN-IV Program, with noted ODSTs Sarah Palmer and Edward Buck transforming into SPARTANs.
ODSTs are very popular among fans of the HALO universe, and since their first appearance in HALO 2, fans have desired an stand-alone game featuring the Helljumpers. That wish materialized in 2009 with HALO 3: ODST. Comic books, books, animated shorts, and even action figures have been cracked out to feed the desire for ODSTs. With this popularity among fans and even the staff at Bungie, the ODSTs have been featured in one form or another along the history of the HALO since 2004...however, that is no so in the 343 HALO new trilogy. The ODST are notably absent from HALO 4 and HALO 5, which they would fit perfectly into several portions of both of those games. Instead, 343 decided to focus more on the SPARTAN-IVs than the ODSTs. Pity. Here is hoping that ODSTs are featured in HALO Wars 2 and HALO 6: We're Sorry! Bungie has publicly stated that the ODSTs were directly influenced by the Starship Troopers book and the real-world Special Operations units of the SAS and the USMC Recon. To me, the ODSTs present more like the US Army Rangers.

The UNSC SOEIV Drop Pod from the HALO Universe
Since the first appearance of the Orbital Drop Shocktroopers in 2004's HALO 2, we have seen their preferred method of transportation: the Single Occupant Exoatmosphere Insertion Vehicle (SOEIV) drop pod. For thirty years, the Ushuaia Armory company has been manufacturing and modifying the SOEIV for UNSC use...mostly by the ODSTs. This single use, single occupant drop pod is heavily reinforced for crash landings at high velocities and even penetration of enemy ship hull armor. These reentry vehicles have been known to ram into buildings without killing the paratrooper.
During reentry operations, the SOEIV mostly drops unassisted until about 3,000 feet, when a drag-chute opens to slow down the velocity. Just before touch-down, rocket motors first to soften the blow. If these systems fail or the SOEIV lands in deep water, death can result, which is why the ODSTs refer to failed drops as "digging your own grave". Two of the best features of the SOEIV is the ability to adjust their heading and course while in-flight via rocket motors and cockpit controls along with being packed with some supplies for continued combat operations. During planetary operations, cut-off UNSC units that locate an SOEIV drop pod in-field is often greeted as a blessing due to the cache of rations, water, ammunition, and other supplies. One of these can mean the difference between life and death in the field.
  

The Space Marine Drop Pod from WH40K
In the WH40K universe, the drop pods used by the Space Marines Chapters to deploy a dozen fully armored and armed space marines, or a single Dreadnought, or even an Thunderfire artillery cannon. Due to the high speed used by the drop pods to overcome interception fire, landing is so violent with the retro-rockets, only members of the Adeptus Astartes can survive Unlike many of the sci-fi drop pods mentioned here, the Imperial drop pod is armed. When the four arms of the pod pop open, like a flower, and expose crew-served heavy bolter machine gun or missile launchers. There is a variant, the Deathstrom pattern drop pod is only fitted with automatic weaponry to clear an DZ for the Space Marine drop pods. In actual game play, the drop pod is covered under the "deep strike" rule that allows certain units to being placed on the table directly and not come in from the corners. Current GW rules preclude the possible of using the used drop pods as a form of cover to shield the new units from incoming fire or keeping the Space Marines inside the pod until the situation cools off.  Nice to see that there is no sense of reality with space drop tactics in the 40K universe. BTW: on the Games Workshop online store, a single Space Marine drop pod sells for $37.

The SMC Drop Pod from the QUAKE Universe
The plot of the original 1996 Quake game was a fantastical gothic Lovecraftian theme shooter with the hero was transported to the alien battlefields via a portal. In the more military sci-fi 1997 sequel that was only a Quake game in name only, our brave space marine is dropped on the Strogg homeworld via a personal rocket shed that had some flight capability. Some of these SMC drop pods are seen in other levels as a witness to the massive scale of the SMC drop on Stroggland. In the fourth game that was a direct sequel to the second game, after Space Marine Kane is transformed into a Strogg ground troop form, he is transported up to the carrier ship and then launched on a desperate risky assignment via the drop pods seen from the second game. Much like the second game, the alien triple-A takes a heavy toll on the drop pods, but the sturdy design of the SMC drop capsules is able to withstand one hell of an impact.

The M2 Trojan Drop Capsules from 1988 OVA "Uchu no Senshi" and the 1959 Novel
Starship Troopers may not be the first sci-fi work to feature orbital drop tactics and space paratroopers, but it is the key importer of these concepts to the wider sci-fi audience as continues to be. The capsule drop on a Skinny world is the first scene in the iconic 1959 novel and it is the introduction to the world of SST. While it was not replicated in the 1997 film or any of the other live-action films, the capsule drop is seen in the 1988 Bandai visual OVA SST anime, and it is the closest to the capsule drop in the original text. The unofficial motto of the Mobile Infantry was that everyone drops and everyone fights, which shows the importance of the orbital drop capability of the M.I. The capsules appear along tracks and the troops mount up and are sealed in. Once the go code is given, the tightly bound up powered armor waits in the firing tube for something to happen. As Rico says: "It is better when you drop", and once the capsule is fired out of the twin-tubes and the ship is unloaded, they fall into the exo-planet atmosphere (about 30 miles up) with gravity taking over. Despite the heaviness of the capsules, some scattering will take place, but that tight placement is due to the pilot's skill. During the reentry, layers of the capsule's "skin" peel off clouding up the sky with debris and junk along with "dummy eggs" to fool ballistic computers of Triple-A batteries. After the inner layer is left, the M.I. trooper has to make the call when to jettison the plastic egg and open the parachute for the landing. The book briefly mentions the drop on the bugs homeworld and a number of other drops are mentioned in passing, but nothing to the degree of the description of the original drop on the Skinny world. In the 1988 OVA, the fully outfitted M.I. powered armor is deployed via capsules, like the book, and the jettisoning of the pod to allow the armored trooper to drop down via thrusters. This drop sequence was only seen in one part of the six-part anime film. FWS will be covering this 1988 anime film in a future Military Sci-Fi Oddities.

The Unification's SOD Space and Urban Assault Section from my "Old Universe"
Before I wrote books, short stories, and fan-fiction, I was a kid obsessed with a number of sci-fi properties that spanned all media. During this time, I developed my own sci-fi universe that spanned millions of years of history, within that time period, I develop an ancient human-like race called the Tay-Jawmen. They reached a technological superior civilization thousands of years prior to early humans discovered the control of fire. By the time Terrans reached the western rim of the Milky Way galaxy, the Tay-Jawmen were a shell of their former selves and they were under occupation from another alien race that used them as slave labor. Rebellious elements of the Terran frontier military rallied together to liberate the T-J in 3431 AD. In 3437 AD, the T-J formed their new government, the Unification, and they sought out their brethren on their ancient lost colonies to reunion their broken society. Given their weakened state, and the T-J being driven by survival, they recruited the best of the former freedom fighter/guerrillas that had worked with Terran Special Forces, who nicknamed them "the Stormtroopers of Death" after their direct action boldness. The SOD worked hard to become the premier Special Operations unit in the 35th century and to secure their fragile government. One of the specialized sections within the SOD was the Space and Urban Assault that was uniquely trained in space drop tactics to conduct high-risk missions of pre-invasion of planetary bodies. Namely, the SOD S-&-U section was going after the planetary defense bases and C3 centers. I was inspirited by the Star Wars Rebel Alliance Spec-Ops Infiltrator unit from the West End Games manual along with modern Israeli history and named the unit after the trash metal band of the same name that I listened to in the mid-1980's.

Orbital Skydiving  in the Star Trek Universes
Both universes of Star Trek feature orbital diving scenes, which is surprising. The first appearance of orbital skydiving was actually cut from the Star Trek Generations final cut, where Kirk is seen orbital skydiving at the opening of the film. This rough, unfinished scene was featured in the deleted sections of the Generations DVD release. The suit that Kirk wears was recycled (and taken in) for B'Elanna Torres in the 3rd episode of the 5th season ("Extreme Risks"), where she was orbital skydiving in the holodeck with the safety features switched off.  The most iconic orbital space jump scene was featured in a exciting portion of the 2009 J.J. Abrams' Star Trek film. Sulu, Kirk, and a red shirt, were deployed from a shuttlecraft to destroy a Romulan drilling platform via a space jump to prevent the destruction of Vulcan at the hands of the time-travelling Romulan miners.
This dangerous tactic was undertaken by Captain Pike during Nero's demand that Pike board his vessel. The space drop was the most low-profile mission option at the time, and the scene was a highlight of the 2009 film. It is hard science though? Some of it is, especially when you take into a account that the jump and platform are not in orbit, but rather in the upper atmosphere. Travelling at about one kilometer per second is also about right for a drop. J.J. Abrams recycled elements of the space jump scene for Star Trek: Into Darkness. 

The Capsuleers from EVE: Dust 514 video Game
In one of the most distant setting for a military sci-fi shooter game, this EVE spin-off online multiplayer shooter was set some 21,000 years in the future. The players of DUST 514 inhabited the bodies of elite space parachute infantry, the “capsuleers”. These elite space jumpers are nearly damn immortal with consciences transfer preserving the mind to be uploaded into a cloned body….Ghost in the Shell anyone?  The technology allowing them to space jump comes from starship hull material that allows the Capsuleers to jump into combat. Players could chose from a number of suits when the game was online. Sadly, Dust 514 had its servers shut down recently and the game is dead.

The Quartz Zone Drop Massacre from the Rogue Trooper Universe
One of the better comics released by the weekly British comic giant 2000AD was the story of an genetically engineered trooper fighting on the poisoned Nu-Earth without the benefit of NBC protection published, in the original storyline, from 1981 to 1986. These genetic engineered blue-skinned warfighters were designed by the Southers to finally win the war over Nu-Earth from the Norts. The foundation for those Genetic Infantry (GI) was dead soldiers and each one had clips implanted so that the clip could be married up to a new body. Holding slots on certain equipment kept the clips alive until re-implantation. The Southers planned on a massive drop of capsules on Nu-Earth of GIs to overwhelm the Norts. Massive Souther transport spit out capsules as Nort artillery was waiting. The GIs had been setup by a Souther traitor, and every one of the GI, save for one, was slain. That is the main character of the series, who revisits the massacre time and time again. FWS will cover Rogue Trooper in a future Forgotten Classics blopost.     

Low Orbit Space Diving From the Old Man's War Universe
In the 2013 ebook series that outlined the fallout from the events of The Last Colony, we see the apex of the Human Division being an emergency jump from the crumbling Earth Station that was under alien attack. Main character Harry Wilson, a member of the CDF and a normal Terran named Dani Lowen jump from the Earth Station has a despite means of escape as the space station breaks up. The super-soldiers of the CDF have experience and training in making low-orbit space diving operations with specialized nanobot backpacks that shield the wearer from the fury of reentry and deploy a "smart" parachute that adjusts to atmospheric conditions. This system is dependant on the wearer being equipped with the standard combat outfit and a BrainPal. The primary group that is tasked with making much of the CDF's combat low orbit combat drops is their Special Operations unit, "the Ghost Bridge". In a key, heartbreaking moment of the sequel to Old Man's War, members of the Ghost Bridge have their BrainPals turned off and they dropped from the sky and impact into the alien soil. The CDF's use of nanotechnology to enable it's soldiers to strike from orbital drop operations is unique and rather inventive.

The Federation Special Forces "Hell Divers" from Clearhorizon Miniatures
In the Clearhorzion line of 28mm and 15mm military sci-fi miniatures, there is the 5th Orbial Activites Division AKA ”Hell Divers”, the most elite infantry unit in the entire Federal Special Forces. Tasked with orbital insertion operations on any planetary combat bodies via drop pods, the skill of the Hell Divers is widely known. The primary armament of the Hell Diver operator is the Federal Mark IV lightweight Advanced Plasma Carbine, and this shortened variant of the standard issue plasma rifle is one of the marks of the elite space paratroopers. These rather cool miniatures were sculpted by Steve Tyler for Clearhorizon and have recived much praise for their detail on both the Hell Divers and their drop pods.

The Yautja Orbital Insertion Pod from Predator (1987)
In the opening few minutes of the classic and iconic 1987 Predator, we see a small alien starship rush by the screen and fire off a small object into the atmosphere of our little blue world. In this drop pod is the hunter that stalks the elite American Special Forces rescue team and dies at the hands of Dutch. Nothing is seen of the drop pod, and it could be related to some of the dead drop prey modules seen in Predators. Unlike the much larger Yautja hunting party in Los Angeles in Predator 2, the lone Yautja hunter of the first film is likely a lone warrior and not interested in sharing the prey with others of his kind.

The Martian Meteors from War of the Worlds
In the history of military science fiction, there is a beginning, and that is the legendary 1898 book by  H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds. Here, he tells of evil technologically superior Martians descending on England via meteor-like drop capsules that contain the alien soldiers and their walking mecha. While the 2005 Steven Spielberg film featured alien pilots riding the lightning (great album!) into their ancient buried war machines, the 1953 movie does feature the meteor drop modules. It is likely that this is the first introduction of space drop modules being used to transport space-based forces to planetary environments. 


The Armored Infantry from Section 8 Video Game
Section 8 was a two games military SF series for the PS3, the Xbox 360, and the PC that was future shooter experience mostly devoted to multiplayer action. You inhabit the body of an elite member of the 8th Armored Infantry unit of powered armor wearing paratroopers designed to drop via tactical transports at 15,000 feet up and use their suits to land safety and take the fight to the enemy. These "burn-in" drops were part of the game play mechanic, allowing players to avoid spawn points on the map and shake up the familiar gameplay. This was also seen in the Medal of Honor: Airborne game. Despite, an okay military sci-fi shooter, the look of the armored drop infantry was amazing along with the art. Too bad the game has not lived on.

The Jumptroops from the Exo-Squad Universe
The mid-1990's American mecha animation television show Exo-Squad, that is totally a forgotten classic, there is an example of Spaceborne soldiers: the Jumptroops. These more naval Exo-Fleet special assault troopers work along side the regular E-frame mechanized forces, who they share a less-than-friendly relationship with. Given their less armored and armed E-frames, their causalities were higher than the regular E-Frame squads. This made E-Frame jocks look down on the more cannon-fodder Jumptroopers, while the Jumptroops viewed the regular E-Frame pilots as arrogant and depend on them to accomplish their missions. These Jumptroops use airborne insection, tactical transports, and drop pods to arrive at the battle. Soon, FWS will discuss Exo-Squad in an lengthy Forgotten Classics blogpost. 

The Terran Empire "Drop Commandos" from Path of the Fury by David Weber
In David Weber's In Fury Born 1990's book series, we follow Terran Imperial war hero Alicia DeVries who was a member of a very elite, or  as David,  FWS consult put it to me the other day at work: "TIER-One on top TIER-One" Special Operations unit. This unit called the Imperial Cadre, also known simply as the "drop commandos". According to Imperial law, the Imperial Cadre is limited to 40,000, but given the requirement, the unit is never full. Which is crazy considering that the most elite global Special Operations comprise of many more than 40,000. These super-soldiers are so expensive that the Terran Empire can construct and staff a Corvette type warship for the same money to train and equip a single drop commando...crazy. Even their drop harness for the drop tubes is three times more expensive than the standard marine one. These space commandos are badass to their core with a deep sense of complete the mission above anything else.  



The M-Spec Reentry Pack from HALO: Reach
One of the spin-off pieces of hardware developed out of the classified YSS-1000 Sabre experimental anti-ship space attack fighter project: the reentry pack. This was designed if the pilot had to pull the chicken switch and bail out of the spacecraft while in outer space. Much like NASA's MOOSE, this backpack device allowed the pilot to reentry the atmosphere. While the M-Spec was used by NOBLE-6 in a key scene in HALO: Reach, the actual operation of the backpack was never explained.
There was another reentry device developed for the SPARTAN-II program  that operated more like a back-mounted heat shield, the M-Spec is too small to operate in that manner. That older system was tested by SPARTAN-II Maria-062 along with improvements to the iconic Mjolnir-IV powered armor in a free-fall orbital jump from Cario Station to Korea. It is believed that the M-Spec generated an powered, short-term energy shield to counter the thermal load of reentry either by powering a full body shield or just the rear portion. I always wanted a playable space jump sequence in a HALO game.

The SCION Orbital Drop Suit from Roughnecks: the Starship Troopers Chronicles
These orbital drop suits were seen being used during the drop on Klendathu in the short-lived SST animated series. The Roughnecks were shot out of dorsal mounted drop tubes on the MI tactical transport vehicle towards the surface of the bug central. Very little is actually discussed about these suits or why this form of drop capsule is humanoid in shape. However, the original concept art does shed a light on the reason: they were much more than meets the eye. The SCION orbital drop suits were more like CLASS-II powered armor with an MI trooper in their CLASS-I powered armor snuggled inside, and the armor shell was outfitted with greater offensive and defensive abilities than just being a reentry protective suit. During the chaos of a drop with bugs rushing the DZ, these heavily armed suits would give the MI troopers the edge to establish a beachhead. Soon, FWS will discuss this animated series on a future Military Sci-Fi Oddities blogpost.

Next Time on FWS...

In 1981 a unique science fiction film that took cues from High Noon would be released and barely make back its money in the theaters despite a solid story, wonderful set design, and starring the immortal Sean Connery. That film is Outland and it high time that FWS discuss this important and forgotten 1980's science fiction