Share
 

Ask an Explainer

Q:

Why didn't our spaceships slow down to land like the ones in movie?

A:

In movies, spaceships have found ways to counter the Earth's gravitational pull. Some imagine anti-grav devices, or others super powered thrusters that allow the ships to hover. Real spacecraft haven't gotten that far yet, so landing is basically just dropping it all the way from outer space.

 

In reality, spaceships do slow down to land: if they didn't, they would be in huge craters now. When they fall from space, they reach astounding speeds, over 28,000 kmh (17,500 mph). They go so fast that the friction from the atmosphere burns away at their hull, so they need heat shields or special tiles. Some use very strong parachutes to help them reach speeds safe enough to land. 

Submit a Question
Categories: Aerodynamics