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Questions tagged [reentry]

Questions related to the movement of human-made objects as they enter atmosphere of Earth or other planetary bodies with atmospheres from space after being successfully launched.

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18 votes
1 answer
6k views

Person falling from space

A person at rest 500 km above the Earth falls straight downwards. She has a snug magical force field around her that is totally rigid and completely protects her from outside heat. The force field ...
5 votes
1 answer
294 views

After a spacecraft departing from the ISS has performed its deorbit burn, what is the altitude at the perigee of its elliptical orbit typically?

I am attempting to quantify how aggressively returning spacecraft reenter the atmosphere. There is likely a trade-off between aerobraking more gradually and splashing down accurately. I'm hoping that ...
2 votes
1 answer
114 views

How much more stressful would the Indian Ocean reentry have been for Starship IFT-3?

The flight tests were originally supposed to end in the Pacific, but was switched to a steeper trajectory that ended in the Indian Ocean for IFT-3. Assuming all had gone perfectly, how much harder ...
35 votes
7 answers
15k views

How could a 90 m/s delta-v be enough to commit the space shuttle to landing?

Wikipedia claims (although with no citation) that in order to make the space shuttle land, an initial powered delta-v of 322 km/h was applied in orbit, retrograde to the shuttle's orbit. 322 km/h is ...
8 votes
1 answer
2k views

How does flying a steeper entry trajectory make the exclusion zone smaller?

This interesting answer Why did SpaceX change the landing site from the Pacific (ITF-1, ITF-2) to the Indian Ocean (ITF-3 and subsequent flights)? contains the following paragraph: However this type ...
8 votes
3 answers
1k views

Why does Earth's atmospheric density have a big "knee" around 100 km? Is there a good analytical approximation?

I've used a quick very rough approximation of the drop of atmospheric density with altitude in this answer and in this answer by using a single exponential and scale height parameter, but that's not ...
3 votes
0 answers
96 views

Simulating the thermal heating of a nose cone exiting an atmosphere

I have a simulation that describes a vehicle traveling at very high speeds (near or even above orbital) up out of the atmosphere and into space. I'd like to chart the rate of heating ($\dot{q}_{conv}$ ...
3 votes
2 answers
291 views

What Earth satellite remained in orbit the longest before reentering?

@BillGray's excellent answer in September 2018 mentions that the Soviet magnetospheric research satellite 1977-093A (NORAD 10370) was expected to reenter the atmosphere in 2019 due to effects ...
8 votes
1 answer
1k views

How did the Corona (Key Hole) satellites film canisters deorbit?

The Corona Photographic Surveillance satellites transferred photos back to Earth by releasing a canister with the film, which would deorbit, re-enter, release a parachute and then a plane would ...
0 votes
0 answers
45 views

Has anyone estimated Super-heavy's return flight telemetry during IFT3 while assuming that its center engines all relit on schedule?

By telemetry, I mean a chart of altitude, speed, remaining propellant, and possibly dynamic pressure, versus time.
5 votes
1 answer
339 views

Would Starship do a direct descent into the atmosphere and aerobrake or do a capture burn before aero braking

Due to re-entry heating and the sheer velocity when coming in from solar orbit into the Earth's SOI, will Starship do a capture burn to slow it down before entering the atmosphere or just go for a ...
16 votes
2 answers
2k views

What aspects of reentry heating 'scale as the 8th power'?

Elon Musk just commented in the post Falcon Heavy Test Flight press conference that reentering at interplanetary velocities means dealing with 'some of the heating things that scale to the 8th power'. ...
3 votes
1 answer
337 views

Would the steel frame/skin of Starship be able to endure loss of a heat shield tile during reentry?

STS-27 was able survive reentry without a tile because the was over a metal component with sufficient thermal inertia to serve as a heat sink without melting. Would the steel frame of Starship be able ...
2 votes
1 answer
405 views

Shuttle dance bank angle timeline

I'm trying to see how much capacity the Shuttle had for reducing reentry temperatures by adjusting trajectory. So far, I've only been told then the Shuttle banks up to 80° during reentry. But is that ...
12 votes
6 answers
5k views

Dangle a cable down to earth - fundamental Physics question

If I had the material that had the tensile strength, would it be possible to have it dangle from the lowest most practically possible geostationary object down into the atmosphere? Would it not ...
6 votes
2 answers
167 views

How do modern space capsules ascertain their position during the communication blackout phase of reentry?

In this video recording of Orion's reentry, you can hear and see the RCS thrusters firing during the communication blackout phase. During the communication blackout, I would assume that GPS would not ...
0 votes
2 answers
173 views

Starship maintaining tank pressure during reentry and landing

Starship relies on tank pressure to gain it's full structural strength. During reentry, the tank walls heat up, causing the ullage gas to heat up, causing pressure to rise. How will Starship prevent ...
-6 votes
2 answers
203 views

How do we know Starship 28 was lost?

As I see it, they lost communications, and almost immediately called it a loss. This seems odd. Surely a blackout is expected due to the plasma?
0 votes
0 answers
135 views

Was Starship 28 equipped with a "black box" designed to enable the recovery of flight data after a RUD during reentry?

Other terms used to describe a "black box" include Flight Data Recorder (FDR), Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), MADS (Modular Auxiliary Data System), and OEX (Orbiter EXperiments) recorder. ...
14 votes
3 answers
2k views

Has any spacecraft had a way for the crew to escape during reentry?

All manned spacecraft to date have come back to Earth eventually, and when they do it's through a flaming ball of plasma. It seems too probable that this plasma would have a way of breaking things ...
8 votes
2 answers
2k views

Has any vehicle prior to Starship's IFT3 "taken a selfie" during reentry?

I'm curious about images (or videos) that a) Include both a portion of the vehicle and its re-entry plasma wake, and b) That were taken at near-orbital (high-hypersonic) velocities or greater. I ...
2 votes
2 answers
188 views

Will there be a controll mechanism to keep spacex starship in a controlled position during coasting and/or reentry?

Looking at the really interesting imagery from Starship Flight 3, it is obvious that Starship is rotating (tumbling-ish) during coasting, and also during the initial reentry phase. The plasma streaks ...
22 votes
3 answers
4k views

Do we actually know what re-entry looks like?

So I was watching this video of a talk given by the creators of the game Kerbal Space Program. The video is more or less about game development, but this part (link should go right to the moment but ...
11 votes
2 answers
2k views

Starship IFT-3: Plasma appears, then disappears

How is that possible? It's not like it lost velocity or gained altitude in that time period.
3 votes
1 answer
162 views

What's that material on the Varda capsule that looks like cake sugar icing?

Watching and listening to this amazing footage of the Varda capsule's atmospheric re-entry, what is the nature and role of the material used on the parts not subjected to the high temperatures of ...
9 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why does the Falcon 9 first stage perform a burn at 60 km altitude?

When falling back to Earth, why does the Falcon 9 first stage perform a burn at about 60 km (37 mi) altitude during re-entry instead of performing a longer burn closer to the drone ship? Would it have ...
3 votes
1 answer
116 views

Why did MR-3 and MR-4 perform a retrofire?

Mercury-Redstone 3 and 4 were suborbital spaceflights and would have re-entered anyway. Yet, the spacescraft made a retrofire burn after apogee. Was it to adjust the path to land at a specified spot ...
5 votes
0 answers
81 views

Will the next deorbiting reactor be on a "safe disposal" trajectory, or re-enter as an uncontrolled derelict?

Kosmos 954 was a reconnaissance satellite launched by the Soviet Union in 1977, powered by a nuclear reactor containing 50Kg of highly enriched uranium-235 Soviet officials … lost control over the ...
5 votes
1 answer
145 views

square-cube law and thermal protection tiles (TPS)

Yesterday, I asked a question about the square-cube law and propellant tanks. Do larger rockets tend to have a better mass ratio due to the square cube law? I have a very similar question about ...
5 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why are the bottoms of spaceplanes black?

The traditional answer is that it's because black radiates heat better. The problem is that in order to get rid of heat at all, the surface must glow brighter than the surrounding plasma. And that ...
1 vote
0 answers
43 views

What figure-of-merit (FoM) is used to characterize the performance of a launch system's reentry-and-landing system?

I'd like to make a table that compares the performance of different launch systems such as The Space Shuttle, Falcon 9 plus Crew Dragon, and Starship. Engine ISP and thrust-to-weight ratio would be ...
4 votes
1 answer
704 views

Does the Starship Super Heavy need to do a reentry burn

SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage boosters perform what SpaceX refers to as an entry burn to slow the stage as it reenters the atmosphere. Since the Starship Super Heavy booster is made of stainless steel ...
19 votes
1 answer
3k views

How did STS-27 survive reentry after losing a thermal tile?

My buddies and I have been arguing about this for a while, speculating about the upcoming Starship test. STS-27 suffered damage on ascent that knocked off a tile & damaged hundreds more. It only ...
18 votes
2 answers
1k views

What kind of heating would occur during a suborbital re-entry?

What kinds of peak temperatures would a stage similar in proportions to the Space shuttle with a similar belly-first approach experience when re-entering from a low suborbital trajectory (similar to a ...
5 votes
4 answers
6k views

Why does the heatshield have to be on the outside?

To what extent has internal insulation been tested to deal with the heat of re-entry? In the case of Starship, is the existing steel strong enough (to be non-ablative!), or would a different type of ...
2 votes
0 answers
197 views

Why are tiles used instead of other novel solutions, for non-ablative heatshields?

Are tiles that much more cost effective as a thermal protection system? What other novel methods have been tried? The obvious issues seem to be different thermal properties and rigidity and how to ...
5 votes
0 answers
480 views

How many kilograms of nickel particles will be dispersed in Earth's atmosphere by dumping old ISS batteries overboard?

update: CNN's November 7, 2023 Japanese scientists want to send a wooden satellite into space links to October 16, 2023 NOAA scientists link exotic metal particles in the upper atmosphere to rockets, ...
6 votes
1 answer
2k views

Did Starship Ship 25 burn up on re-entry?

SpaceX Starship Ship 25 launched and managed a successful separation from the booster and reportedly made it into space before the autonomous flight termination system activated, destroying the ...
10 votes
3 answers
3k views

What is the largest object/mass that can survive entry into the earth's atmosphere from space without heating to 40 degrees C, or above?

This question is of interest because there are terrestrial organisms, such as bacterial and fungal spores, and even complex multicellular organisms, such as tardigrades, which can survive deep space ...
3 votes
1 answer
287 views

What would be the cost of construction of space capsule (re- entry modules)

I would like what would be the range of costs for building a space capsule , ranging from the Apollo times to the new Boeing Starliner.
32 votes
1 answer
4k views

Apollo 13's plutonium RTG re-entry into the Tonga Trench: Good shootin' or good luck?

Plutonium powered RTGs are encased to survive re-entry. According to the Wikipedia article on Apollo 13 RTGs were used to power … the scientific experiments left on the Moon by the crews of Apollo …...
6 votes
5 answers
3k views

Earth re-entry from orbit by a sequence of upper-atmosphere dips to reduce kinetic energy?

There are quite a few questions on this sort of theme here, and I've also read one or two other things, like non-ballistic re-entry. So this might be a duplicate, but I don't think so. To clarify: I'm ...
55 votes
4 answers
9k views

What impact will the deorbiting of thousands of satellites have on the atmosphere?

With the creation of mega satellite constellations like Starlink, there are several thousand satellites being launched each year. This means that as these satellites go out of order in a few years, ...
0 votes
0 answers
49 views

Hypersonic dynamic shift in large vs. small lifting bodies

Background: Lifting bodies have been tested at small scales, though not during re-entry. For instance: the NASA HL10 Such Lifting-Body designs are seemingly here to stay with craft such as Dreamchaser ...
16 votes
4 answers
3k views

How much reentry speed did the Shuttles shed by doing a series of sharp turns?

Jerard Puckett mentioned in The Pod Bay yesterday that Shuttles did S-Curve maneuvers back and forth across their reentry trajectory to shed speed. After a bit of looking, I found some reference to ...
4 votes
2 answers
258 views

Could you skim along the Karman line using a parafoil?

Imagine a person just wearing a spacesuit equipped with a parafoil returning from low orbit. Could they maintain altitude starting at 7.8 km/s above or along the Karman line slowly losing speed—maybe ...
3 votes
3 answers
1k views

Would it be possible to avoid the heat-from-friction problem when re-entering the atmosphere by performing (vertical) "U-turns"?

If you lift a swing at a children's playground and release it will swing back and forth for a while, losing some altitude in each swing, mostly (?) due to drag. Eventually it has lost all energy and ...
14 votes
1 answer
3k views

How dangerous is tossing equipment off the ISS?

On 2023 June 22, during an ISS spacewalk, Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin "tossed overboard" three no longer needed devices, "off the back of the space station in a direction that ...
2 votes
1 answer
137 views

Inflatable tank/balloon use for recovery

Hopefully this idea makes sense. Basically if you've seen the space-truck (ROOST), you'll get where I'm going with this. I'm wondering whether an inflatable tank/tank lining could be used to produce ...
0 votes
2 answers
351 views

How can Starship belly flop with a full payload?

Starship had an empty weight of under 100 tons. Of this, less than 12 tons is accounted for by the engines. Starship is supposed to be able to make atmospheric entry with a 150 ton payload in the nose....

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