Could a ship drop its cargo or shed weight before reentry to lessen the strain on the ship during reentry? Would a ship breaking down to smaller parts before reentry have any advantages over being one piece?

The mother ship stays in orbit and gets you there and the landing pods are just gliders and parachutes for reentry.

  • $\begingroup$ Related: space.stackexchange.com/q/4161/26446 $\endgroup$ – DrSheldon Dec 1 '18 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ All spacecraft shed unnecessary weight as soon as it becomes unneeded, both during ascent and descent. Heat shields are heavy and are either burned off or jettisoned as soon as it can. Generally speaking, a lighter vehicle is easier to slow down with air resistance and/or retropulsion. The tricky thing is determining the right entry angle so that you neither experience too many G forces nor bounce off the atmosphere. $\endgroup$ – Paul Dec 1 '18 at 20:36

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