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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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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 ...
user's user avatar
  • 7,310
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 ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
9 votes
2 answers
2k views

If there was a non-rotating skyhook in Earth orbit, what would re-entry be like after dropping from its foot?

I have been looking at a space station that orbits Earth at an altitude of 3500 km above the equator, and has tethers that extend from it downwards to 250 km above the surface, and outwards to 6500 km ...
kim holder's user avatar
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17 votes
1 answer
1k views

Have spacecraft ever dipped below the Karman line and then safely continued spaceflight?

The item in Science Alert's A Harvard Astrophysicist Says Outer Space Is Actually Closer Than We Think (see also Science; Outer space may have just gotten a bit closer) talks about the recent Acta ...
uhoh's user avatar
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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'. ...
kim holder's user avatar
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16 votes
4 answers
3k views

What are the conditions for re-entry of an object in a (highly) elliptical orbit?

There's something I don't understand: When it comes to de-commissioned satellites, rocket bodies etc. I thought one way of re-entry was via a highly elliptical orbit: The perigee gets low enough (app....
eerie's user avatar
  • 439
57 votes
2 answers
28k views

How does the Falcon 9 first stage avoid burning up on re-entry?

Now that a Falcon 9 first stage has successfully landed after a launch mission, I want to know how the first stage can avoid burning up when coming back down to earth. There doesn't appear to be any ...
Rickest Rick's user avatar
  • 1,669
26 votes
5 answers
2k views

Gliding into the atmosphere

The recent question about Cessna reentering from ISS got the answers that all imply a rapid drop. But from what I know, air drag is proportional: to square of airspeed to air density to attack ...
SF.'s user avatar
  • 55k
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, ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
9 votes
1 answer
2k views

This ISS trash deployment looks more like 2 feet than 2 inches per second, was it too fast or are these articles incorrect?

Digital Trends' Watch a NASA astronaut jettison part of the ISS into space which was linked in says: Writing in Air & Space last year about the process of jettisoning objects, veteran NASA ...
uhoh's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
1k views

Dragon re-entry flight profile?

I was looking online for a profile depicting the Dragon re-entry similar to those showing the launch and first stage re-entry (e.g. https://www.elonx.net/wp-content/uploads/...
Peter - Reinstate Monica's user avatar
15 votes
3 answers
3k views

Could you take a Cessna from the ISS to Earth?

The shuttle had a empty gross weight of 172,000 lb (78,000 kg), and the only feasible way shedding the 27,724 kilometres (17,227 mi) per hour, of the relative speed of the ISS is Aerobraking. A four ...
James Jenkins's user avatar
20 votes
3 answers
15k views

Can a reentry be done slowly?

The usual approach to reentry is fast and hot. There's a lot of energy to be lost, and doing it quickly has some advantages: You can dump energy into hypersonic air, and then leave that heat behind ...
Bob Jacobsen's user avatar
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18 votes
1 answer
2k views

Which crewed spacecraft provides the gentlest descent and/or landing?

Landing with a Soyuz capsule is often compared to being in a car accident1, it's pretty violent on touch-down. On the other hand, I imagine the Space Shuttle's touch-down to be a little like a rough ...
DarkDust's user avatar
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17 votes
1 answer
4k views

Why did early satellites (e.g. China's Fanhui Shi Weixing) re-enter the atmosphere narrow end (nose)-first?

I was surprised to find out from @JohnnyRobinson's new answer that China's series of Fanhui Shi Weixing spacecraft (FSW) used impregnated oak heat shields. I found this in astronautix: The capsule ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
14 votes
1 answer
706 views

What is the heat shield refurbishment procedure for a crew Dragon capsule?

How, specifically, is the heat shield replaced or refurbished? More precisely... How do they know it will work for the next mission? :-P
Michael Stachowsky's user avatar
10 votes
4 answers
1k views

Challenging the Kármán line from above

The initial conditions of the thought experiment is (very) LEO / reentry. capsules, space shuttle and other spacecraft can generate lift in upper atmosphere during reentry, in order to reduce ...
user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
1k views

How does the dynamic pressure evolve during reentry?

During launcher ascent, dynamic pressure evolution is described in this answer for the Saturn V. I suppose this is similar for most launchers. Given the protections designed for reentry, I suppose ...
Manu H's user avatar
  • 3,790
22 votes
3 answers
17k views

How does skipping off the atmosphere work?

I searched the web and found a couple entries on Wikipedia (Skip reentry & Atmospheric entry) that kind brush at the topic. The article on Stone skipping has some science and physics involved (...
James Jenkins's user avatar
15 votes
5 answers
42k views

What are the top temperatures occurring during reentry?

We all know spacecraft reentry causes extreme heat - plasma, ablator, flaming trail, all that jazz. I'd like to know just what level of heat are we dealing with - could someone throw some numbers, ...
SF.'s user avatar
  • 55k
14 votes
2 answers
2k views

Artificial Shooting Stars - how could this possibly work (economically/technologically)?

update March 2018: I just saw this in Buzzfeed (Google sent me there, I don't normally read it): Rich People Will Soon Be Able To Buy Fake Meteor Showers On Demand @Antzi mentioned below the question ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
12 votes
3 answers
1k views

Why are Tiangong-1's Apogee and Perigee Graphs Wobbly?

The apogee and perigee graph of the Tiangong-1 space station, about to re-enter and break up Real Soon Now, is depicted in this graph (source: Wikipedia): Why are the graphs wobbly? Is it because the ...
Jens's user avatar
  • 1,696
8 votes
2 answers
2k views

What effect (if any) would leaving the cargo bay doors open have had during a shuttle reentry?

The cargo bay doors of the Space Shuttle were used on-orbit as radiators for thermal control. The cargo bay doors were closed before the reentry burn and descent to the surface, but could there have ...
costrom's user avatar
  • 1,053
3 votes
3 answers
1k views

Would a balloon pop if dropped from space?

Could a "simple" inflated party balloon be dropped from space entering an atmosphere? The first case at orbital speed, the second case just outside the atmosphere and the third interplanetary? The ...
Muze's user avatar
  • 1
3 votes
3 answers
692 views

Ways to mitigate the forever violent re-entry? (Moon landings vs Earth landings)

The frequently used reasoning for why the re-entry should always be performed at neck-breaking speeds is that it would take almost as much fuel to slow the craft down as it takes to launch it into ...
Ricky's user avatar
  • 201
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, ...
usernumber's user avatar
  • 5,068
50 votes
5 answers
6k views

How possible are 'space jumps'?

Have you seen the first of the two new Star Trek movies? Kirk (Chris Pine), Sulu (John Cho) and a red shirt perform something really awesome in this film: They jump from space down to a planet, ...
s-m-e's user avatar
  • 6,461
36 votes
3 answers
5k views

Why don't 3-parachute descent systems collide and collapse?

The Orion reentry vehicle will have a parachute system. Like Apollo, they'll have 3:     Orion Parachute Drop Test on May 1, 2013 A model of NASA's Orion spacecraft glides ...
AlanSE's user avatar
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34 votes
1 answer
7k views

If I drop a feather from orbit, would it burn up or "hit" the ground?

I know that capsules typically require heat shields to survive reentry from orbit. I'm wondering how an object's size, density and aerodynamic profile affects this. For more specificity: The feather ...
neelsg's user avatar
  • 5,223
29 votes
1 answer
6k views

Why are spaceship capsules frustum shaped?

Why do spaceships have a frustum (portion of a cone) shape like e.g. the pressure capsule of the SpaceX Dragon on the image below?     I think there is some engineering stuff behind ...
Forin's user avatar
  • 393
23 votes
3 answers
3k views

Can a single Soyuz return a crew of six back to Earth?

Let's say that the ISS has to be immediately evacuated and that one of the two Soyuz is broken. Could the crew quickly remove "unnecessary weight" (seats maybe?) and fit six person to return back to ...
pastullo's user avatar
  • 1,216
20 votes
1 answer
3k views

Is there such thing as plasma (from reentry) creating lift?

The following was claimed on the aviation site: In 1981, after years of development and testing, Columbia made its maiden voyage into orbit. Unexpectedly, on re-entry, the nose pitched up much higher ...
ymb1's user avatar
  • 2,423
15 votes
1 answer
3k views

Any imagery from Shuttle Columbia's SILTS pod on the internet?

(Inspired by this question) One of the distinguishing features of Shuttle Columbia was its Shuttle Infrared Leeside Temperature Sensing (SILTS) pod. This was an experiment that took infrared imagery ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
14 votes
2 answers
3k views

Re-entry Heat Shield Alternative

Why is it that Controlled Re-entry Vehicles (like the most recent Orion & Dragon) do not use a strong magnetic field during re-entry to "shield" the blunt shaped end from plasma ? Reasoning: ...
Firas's user avatar
  • 141
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 ...
user avatar
12 votes
2 answers
3k views

What is feathering?

I heard that Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo just tested something called “feathering”. What is it? How come I didn't hear about the shuttle doing this, it is unique to Virgin Galactic's ship?
James Jenkins's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
1k views

How long does trash jettisoned by hand from the ISS fall before burning up on reentry?

NASA proposed a policy for the jettison of trash from the ISS space station. This article notes that a recent ISS space station spacewalk by Russian cosmonauts involved one man jettisoning by hand a ...
Basil Bourque's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
708 views

How does a Falcon 9 booster know how far away the ground is?

In the latest landing video, it seems the Falcon 9 just hovered for a moment above the ship. That being said, it begs the question, how does the booster know where the ground is? Does it purely work ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
9 votes
1 answer
409 views

What is the speed of crew Dragon upon splashdown?

After reentry, what is the speed of the Dragon 2 capsule right before splashdown? What g-force is received upon splashdown? At the time of writing, this answer gives such information for many other ...
Speedphoenix's user avatar
  • 5,324
8 votes
1 answer
423 views

Nature of "the silky black 'highly flame-resistant felt'" on Block 5 Falcon 9's, and its intended functions?

The Teslarati article SpaceX Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket’s drone ship return captured in stunning detail [gallery] and accompanying photo spread shows many interesting details of "SpaceX’s first West ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
8 votes
1 answer
3k views

Did the Apollo Command module really "skip" within, or off of the atmosphere as a part of its reentry program?

This answer to a question about the Shuttle reentry begins: Skipping reentries aren't unheard of. The Apollo command module performed a single skip when returning from lunar missions. but Wikipedia'...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
6 votes
3 answers
457 views

Why does it take so long for ISS garbage to fall out of orbit?

The ISS recently jettison some garbage and expects it to take 2-4 years to de-orbit and burn up. From Gizmodo's ISS Ditches 2.9-Ton Pallet of Batteries, Creating Its Most Massive Piece of Space Trash: ...
Be Kind To New Users's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
435 views

Would plasma sheathes from reentry heating block optical/UV communications as well as radio?

During reentry, it's routine for the ionized atmosphere surrounding the spacecraft to cut off radio communications for a certain period. As far as I know, this can't be avoided, except perhaps by ...
Nathan Tuggy's user avatar
  • 4,567
5 votes
1 answer
416 views

ISS battery "de-orbit" burnup?

In reading these two questions: How many kilograms of nickel particles will be dispersed in Earth's atmosphere by dumping old ISS batteries overboard? and Why does it take so long for ISS garbage ...
Milwrdfan's user avatar
  • 2,798
3 votes
1 answer
179 views

How many solar system bodies have "knees" in their atmospheres?

Discussion lead to citing Why does Earth's atmospheric density have a big "knee" around 100 km? Is there a good analytical approximation? who's answer is "monatomic oxygen". ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
2 votes
1 answer
962 views

Why does "Tim Peake's capsule" look like it's copper now?

What are these capsules made of? This is the Expedition 47 return capsule that brought Astronauts Yuri Malenchenko, Timothy Peake, and Timothy Kopra back to Earth. According to IFL Science!: The ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
44 votes
2 answers
12k views

Why didn't the Space Shuttle bounce back into space as many times as possible so as to lose a lot of kinetic energy up there?

From this video, I got know that Space Shuttle did reentry around 5000 miles away from landing site. It's angle of attack is maintained around 40 degrees during re-entry. If it is more than that, it ...
SRD's user avatar
  • 808
30 votes
6 answers
6k views

What crewed space flight landed farthest off-target?

Astronauts are usually prepared to land at a random place on Earth; in case the planned reentry burn fails, but by other means they achieve reentry trajectory, the orbital motion will pretty much ...
SF.'s user avatar
  • 55k
30 votes
1 answer
7k views

Did the astronauts seated on the space shuttle mid-deck have responsibilities during reentry and landing?

Space Shuttle mid-deck, it doesn't look like there is much for the astronauts there to do. I recognize this photo was not taken during a mission. I couldn't find an image of the mid-deck during ...
Bob516's user avatar
  • 6,959
26 votes
4 answers
6k views

Why can't you just parachute down right from orbit?

This will surely seem, at least at first sight, a completely stupid idea, seeing the usual “space isn't high away, it's fast away”, and that the heat shields which actually are used need to withstand ...
leftaroundabout's user avatar