In a recent news NASA, SpaceX Share Data On Supersonic Retropropulsion

My question is what is Retropropulsion?


2 Answers 2


Firing your rocket engines against your velocity vector in order to decelerate. In this case, specifically firing your rockets into a supersonic wind.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, but why generic Google search didn't yield any good reference? Is there any alternate word for this? $\endgroup$ Oct 26, 2014 at 5:25
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ "Retrorocket" is more prevalent. $\endgroup$
    – Mark Adler
    Oct 26, 2014 at 5:45
  • $\begingroup$ You should probably edit that into your answer. $\endgroup$
    – Ellesedil
    Oct 27, 2014 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe a separate question, but in lay terms, or at least without diving deep, what are the principal challenges unique to the retropropulsion scenario? $\endgroup$
    – Anthony X
    May 7, 2017 at 17:03
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    $\begingroup$ The interaction of the thrust plume on the supersonic flow, specifically how it changes the drag of the vehicle and the resulting effective thrust direction and magnitude. There might also be a question of a proper engine startup when facing into the flow. $\endgroup$
    – Mark Adler
    May 7, 2017 at 18:53

Supersonic retro propulsion is a method to deaccelerate the space probe safely while reentry on a planet using the retrorockets in supersonic regime.

  • $\begingroup$ You should expand your answer here - explain what is meant by "retrorockets" and how the deceleration happens. $\endgroup$
    – Phiteros
    May 7, 2017 at 5:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Phiteros yes, like the use of "rocket engines" in this highly up-voted answer. Apparently if you have high reputation points, you don't have to? :) See also this. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 9, 2017 at 6:26

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