Question by TheWritingWriter: Do probes / shuttles need velocity to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere?
I’m by no means an engineer / aerospace encyclopedia, as you can tell, but I thought there was a particular amount of “orbital force” or something which prevented objects in space from being dragged down into the atmosphere. Essentially, I’m talking about the polar opposite of escape velocity – is there a velocity required to re-enter a planet’s atmosphere without being caught in its upper orbital fields?
Sorry if this makes no sense, lol.
Answer by Stan Dalone
It’s more like the other way around. Objects need a certain amount of velocity (depending on altitude) to stay in orbit. If they slow down, they drop into a lower orbit or they drop far enough to be slowed by drag from the upper atmosphere. Then, of course, they suffer the heat of reentry, which incidentally isn’t caused by friction as most people think: it’s caused by supercompression of air in front of the reentering body.
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Today’s Episode: Completing the space station. Also cleaning up low-Kerbin orbit and yet another ill-fated powered-landing attempt. So I lied in the episode …
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