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Q:

Why did they drop space capsules into the ocean?

A:

The USA launch sites are on coastlines, which means that if something were to go wrong during takeoff, the capsule would land into the ocean. Water landings are very effective at cushioning the fall of a spacecraft.

 

Spacecraft still hit the water very hard, though, so NASA tests and retests the strain of water landings on spacecraft. 

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Categories: Flight Dynamics