Thank you all for being so enthusiastic about this! Let me answer a few questions that I’ve seen pop up here to hopefully help guide the discussion.
This is not the hardest sci-fi out there. I already wrote an extremely hard sci-fi novel, and have as yet been unable to find a publisher, so this one I winged it and decided for “coolness.” There is antigravity technology, but more vehicle-sized than human implant size, and existing AI. The vehicle which will rescue our heroes is essentially an intelligent flying motorcycle. I had thought that, since I’ve seen parachutists make formations and clasp hands and such, that such a vehicle could get close enough for one person to reach out, take the handlebar, and pull themself onto the seat without causing too much turbulance. As for catching the second person, this hovercycle has a docking clamp, which it has learned to use to also pick things up. My initial idea was that the one person would get onto the flying skycycle, then swoop in, grab the other with the clamp, and barely manage to slow down/pull up so they don’t slam into the ground (and then immediately acquire medical assistance).
Definitely below the Karman line or even the real edge of space. Part of what I’m trying to ascertain here is what a reasonable height would be. I know I’ve read of a case where a woman who was sucked out of a plane at 30,000 feet who survived, no suit or even parachute, so that could be a good baseline altitude, but I’d like to press it as high as I could reasonably go.
The current plan is that the vehicle is intelligent and very loyal to the main character, and when the main character gets sucked out into the air, it goes after him to save him.
It looks like the problems I need to overcome include the pressure, lack of oxygen, and control of the flat spin.
For the pressure, would some sort of skin suit work? I could imagine that a space marine would wear a form-fitting skinsuit as part of their main uniform, especially if they work in areas where depressurization is a distinct possibility. The suit would offer freedom of movement, but then might tighten when it detects low pressure, to compensate. Sound silly, or viable?
The oxygen, I can easily have the space marine carry some small device, a pressure bottle of emergency oxygen, for the same reason as the skinsuit.
The flat spin is harder. I saw Baumgartner went into a spin, but then recovered. Is that something that experienced HALO jumpers can do when they reach lower atmosphere? How would one do that?
And how would someone survive without this, or what injuries would they suffer? I’m assuming a successful catch without the crushing impact. Embolisms were mentioned, but I know those are not immediately lethal. Would a high-altitude embolism go away as the faller entered denser lower-atmosphere air?