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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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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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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
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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
33 votes
2 answers
14k views

Why didn’t the Spacecraft used for the Apollo 11 mission melt in the Earth’s Atmosphere?

My brother has recently been converted to a Flat Earther and is convinced that something that proves his theory is the moon landings being faked by NASA. I have managed to counter argue the majority ...
Allroundguy22's user avatar
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 …...
Woody's user avatar
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31 votes
3 answers
15k views

Why does the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket do a 180 flip for reentry?

I am very new to the rockets and this can be a very dumb question, just that I am not sure if my understanding here is right? All of the rockets engines are at bottom which help it take off and ...
KP.'s user avatar
  • 421
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
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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
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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
27 votes
2 answers
4k views

Apollo Command Module heatshield tube - what was it for?

I went to the Science Museum in London last year, where I saw (amongst many other wonderful things!) the Apollo 10 CM, Charlie Brown. Looking at the heat shield, I saw two circular indentations with a ...
Jim Houghton's user avatar
27 votes
2 answers
4k views

Gagarin not ejecting from capsule

I'm currently reading a dutch book about the earlier days of manned spaceflight (Ruimtevaart B. van der Klaauw). Published in 1962 In a chapter about Vostok 1 the book reads as following Translated ...
Jeroen Smink's user avatar
  • 1,134
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
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
25 votes
2 answers
5k views

Why don't we know exactly where the Chinese rocket will fall?

China has launched another Long March 5B rocket that seems liable to fall anywhere Although the overall risk of harm to people is low—there is only a 0.5 percent chance of injury or death to a human, ...
Machavity's user avatar
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23 votes
2 answers
4k views

Why not increase contact surface when reentering the atmosphere?

If a craft were to increase the surface area where contact is made with air during reentry, I imagine the heat quantity per area unit would decrease, making the use of (heavy) heat shields less of a ...
Magix's user avatar
  • 605
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
22 votes
2 answers
4k views

Space Shuttle Challenger bringing back Salyut-7

We know that on February 11 1985, right after the Soviets lost control of their Salyut-7 station. US Space tracking assets also started noticing that the station was starting to tumble. Kidnapping a ...
Jeroen Smink's user avatar
  • 1,134
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 ...
Mia's user avatar
  • 323
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
22 votes
3 answers
4k views

Why did the grid fin of the CRS-8/SES 10 booster burn?

After a successful reentry burn of the stage, around 10 seconds after engine shutdown, one of the fins glows red, then begins to burn. My question is why would this burn after the stage already ...
Jake Blocker's user avatar
  • 4,285
21 votes
3 answers
6k views

Do you need a heat shield to enter the atmosphere from non-orbital speeds?

Let's say you launched a rocket straight up, not intending to go into orbit. At its apogee, the rocket is (say) 200 km above the earth: high enough (though certainly not fast enough) for LEO. Would ...
Joe's user avatar
  • 3,950
20 votes
4 answers
5k views

Is it harder to enter an atmosphere perpendicular or at an angle

I've heard that because Earth's atmosphere is so thick that some spacecraft can 'bounce' off the atmosphere if they don't enter at the correct angle. This leads me to believe that shallower angles ...
john doe's user avatar
  • 636
20 votes
2 answers
5k views

What eliminates the velocity when occupants return from ISS to earth, and how much?

The ISS has an orbital velocity of ~28000 km/h; the velocity $v$ relative to the landing site of the descent module is probably even higher than that most of the time. Once the occupants have landed, ...
Alexander Klauer's user avatar
20 votes
3 answers
5k views

Could one skydive from a space capsule that just had a parachute failure during re-entry?

Say you're in a space capsule. The space capsule has mostly survived re-entry, but the capsule's parachutes fell off. If you had a regular skydiving parachute with you, is there any way you could ...
Fax's user avatar
  • 361
20 votes
4 answers
4k views

Why is it not possible to deorbit in a shallow glidepath?

The fiery re-entry of spacecraft has been a staple of spaceflight since the beginning, making ablative heat shielding a necessary component of any craft wishing to return to Earth intact. This is the ...
Jerard Puckett's user avatar
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
20 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why is it that during reentry phase a capsule cannot communicate with mission control?

During reentry phase into the Earth's atmosphere the heat produced by air friction does not allow any communication with the surface. Why does the heat interfere with electronic frequencies and ...
user avatar
20 votes
2 answers
4k views

How much does it cost to return 1 kg from the ISS to the Earth? What are the parameters influencing this price?

I heard in a few places downmass is a limiting factor in the ISS national lab capacity. Is that true? According to NASA's pricing plan, it actually costs more to get downmass than upmass. Why is that?
nadav zilberman's user avatar
20 votes
1 answer
1k views

What are the end-of-life options for large classified satellites?

The Delta IV Heavy recently launched NORL-65 to a low Earth orbit. Some of these missions will be in the range of 390 km altitude with circular orbits. Plus, the Delta IV Heavy is a big rocket, with ...
AlanSE's user avatar
  • 16.3k
19 votes
4 answers
12k views

Why do spacecraft enter the atmosphere violently instead of a smooth spiral?

Why do spaceships almost make a straight line in the atmosphere when coming back to earth? This makes the ship undergo high stress and temperature. Why don't they make a spiral trajectory so that they ...
agemO's user avatar
  • 301
19 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
  • 12.7k
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 ...
Anton Hengst's user avatar
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19 votes
1 answer
3k views

Would it be possible to get back to Earth from the ISS without any ground support?

In the TV show Last Man On Earth we follow a small group of immune survivors after an apocalyptic plague has essentially wiped out humanity. It is revealed that a single astronaut on the ISS has also ...
Brian Lynch's user avatar
  • 4,350
18 votes
3 answers
4k views

What if a Space Shuttle entered the atmosphere of Venus?

How would a U.S. Space Shuttle's atmospheric entry on Venus differ from reentry on Earth? Say there's a Space Shuttle in a low Venus orbit performing a (re-)entry burn. How would the following ...
Greenhorn's user avatar
  • 183
18 votes
4 answers
3k views

Is there a risk that re-entering capsules or other components will hit ships or islands?

How precisely can the splash-down point of re-entering capsules (from Mercury onwards) be known in advance? Wasn't there a risk that capsules would hit a ship or an island? Likewise, Russian and ...
Joshua Fox's user avatar
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 ...
CapIsland's user avatar
  • 199
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
  • 12.5k
18 votes
1 answer
27k views

At what angle did Apollo 13 need to reenter?

The Apollo missions, like most all missions since, used a heat shield to keep from disintegrating in the atmosphere. This approach had its flaws, however. For one, if your approach was too shallow, ...
user avatar
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 ...
XBN's user avatar
  • 189
18 votes
1 answer
2k views

Did any of the Space Shuttles land through rain or rainclouds?

My web research resulted in figuring out that launching Space Shuttles in rain, apart from lightning, wind and turbulence related problems, wasn't permitted due to: brittleness of the heat shield ...
Sergiy Lenzion's user avatar
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
17 votes
2 answers
22k views

What was Apollo 11's reentry speed at parachute deployment?

What was the velocity of the Command Module after it had penetrated through the Earth's atmosphere at the point where the parachutes were deployed?
Barrie Lawson's user avatar
17 votes
1 answer
2k views

Apollo CM heat shield burnt pattern around RCS thrusters

Looking through photos of Apollo CM capsules after reentry, I was trying to have a feel for how the heat was distributed on the sides of the capsule. By the look of surviving patches of Mylar tape ...
Sergiy Lenzion's user avatar
17 votes
1 answer
3k views

Did the Apollo astronauts ever describe reentry deceleration?

Did the Apollo astronauts describe any differences in how it felt in the CM as it passed between the hypersonic, supersonic, transonic and the subsonic zone? Did the CM shake more or less in ...
Bob516's user avatar
  • 6,939
17 votes
1 answer
2k views

What were the differences between Space Shuttle's and Buran's reentry guidance?

Assuming unpowered flight, what were the significant differences between the STS orbiter and the Buran in: re-entry trajectory? re-entry guidance? navigation during re-entry (inputs and algorithms - ...
Deer Hunter's user avatar
  • 11.4k
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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