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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54
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2answers
20k 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 ...
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5answers
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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, ...
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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 ...
37
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3answers
4k views

What would NASA have done if they knew Columbia was catastrophically damaged?

When the Columbia Shuttle broke apart in 2003, it was known after the launch that a piece of foam had fallen and hit the Shuttle. NASA apparently chose not to investigate it as well as they could have....
36
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3answers
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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 ...
32
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2answers
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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 ...
31
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6answers
5k 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 ...
30
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3answers
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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 ...
30
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7answers
11k 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 ...
29
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1answer
5k 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 ...
29
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1answer
6k 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 ...
23
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2answers
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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 ...
22
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4answers
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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 ...
22
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3answers
3k 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 ...
21
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3answers
12k 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 (...
20
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1answer
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 ...
19
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2answers
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, ...
19
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4answers
4k 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 ...
19
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1answer
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 ...
18
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4answers
8k 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 ...
18
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3answers
4k 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 ...
18
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2answers
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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?
18
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1answer
2k 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 ...
18
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1answer
1k 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 ...
17
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4answers
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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 ...
17
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1answer
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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 ...
16
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3answers
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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 ...
16
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2answers
3k views

Why will the BFS reenter broadside rather than engine first?

Musk has stated that they added the delta wing to the BFS design because; from one flight to the next the ship may have differing payloads and differing fuel loads. These changes shift the center of ...
16
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4answers
3k 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 ...
16
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1answer
4k views

Why do some meteors explode in air?

I was reading about the Tunguska and Chelyabinsk meteors and I wonder what would cause a meteor to explode in the air, instead of hitting the surface?
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1answer
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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 ...
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2answers
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Do we have any idea when Tiangong-1 will deorbit?

In March 2016 China's Manned Space Engineering Office announced that all Tiangong-1 telemetry had failed leaving no ability to safely control the space station's decent. With what we know about the ...
16
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1answer
21k 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, ...
16
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1answer
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 - ...
16
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1answer
552 views

Is there an explanation for repeating Soyuz accidents involving misfiring of explosive bolts?

In the Soyuz program, quite a few accidents have been caused by malfunctions of the explosive bolts: Soyuz 11: Explosive bolts designed to fire sequentially fired simultaneously instead, causing a ...
15
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4answers
2k 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....
15
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3answers
1k views

How much of Dragon might have survived the explosion of CRS-7 and for how long?

At June 28th 2015, the SpaceX flight CRS-7 failed when the Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket exploded minutes after liftoff. Shotwell said twice during the press conference that Dragon capsule was transmitting ...
14
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5answers
4k views

Have Air-breathing Engines ever been used on a reentry vehicle, could they be?

For the purpose of this question I would like to assume there is no risk of life for the astronauts, or that the design would only be used for delivery of a non-ethically-sensitive payload. Looking at ...
14
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3answers
998 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 ...
14
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1answer
3k 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 ...
14
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1answer
2k 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 ...
14
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2answers
2k views

Tiangong-1 reentry impact place probabilities

Following all the news concerning Tiangong-1, I have seen the following plot made by the Aerospace Corporation where Blue area: null probability of impact Yellow area: high probability of impact ...
14
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1answer
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Can we see the Russian Progress 59 spacecraft burn up on reentry?

Progress 59's orbit is decaying and it will soon reenter Earth's atmosphere. Will it be possible for observers on the ground to see it burn in the skies as it falls towards the Earth?
14
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2answers
463 views

At what altitude does transonic compressibility become a non-issue?

I know that on the forthcoming SpaceX attempt at sea landing the first stage, they have added hypersonic fins to the first stage. I was curious as to what altitude transonic compressibility is an ...
14
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2answers
853 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 ...
13
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6answers
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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 ...
13
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3answers
793 views

Use of steerable parachutes for re-entry

Apart from testing Rogallo wing for Gemini capsules are there any cases of use of steerable parachutes/wings for final phase of re-entry of space vehicle? When landing in big steppe or ocean it doesn'...
13
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2answers
2k 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?
13
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2answers
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 ...
13
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1answer
1k views

Could the current dragon v2 heat shield withstand a reentry from the moon?

I wonder if the Dragon V2 heat shield could withstand the extreme speed of a reentry from the moon. Or is it only capable of LEO flights?

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