Ask an Explainer


What helps a capsule land safely in the ocean?


A space capsule has a dangerous trip on the way down through the atmosphere. First, it needs to slow down to a safe speed. The friction from the air will help do this, but the capsule will need thick heat shields because the friction creates a lot of heat on the capsule. Then, very large parachutes are deployed to lower the capsule into the ocean, along with airbag-like floatation devices to keep it afloat. They call this splashdown.

Categories: Flight Dynamics