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Atmospheric re-entry from orbit seems such a violent affair with tons of speed and energy having to be shed, which necessitates heat shields and what not.
I do understand that the velocity of the craft has to slow down to de-orbit but does it have to be done in such a rapid fashion?
Is it possible for a slower deorbit that doesn't require a heat shield? What would this take? Larger wings on the orbital craft? Big engines? Large parachutes?orbit