An artist's impression of Orion re-entering Earth's atmosphere

Artist’s impression of the uncrewed Orion capsule re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. The real thing returned safely to Earth in 2022


SpaceX is about to test a system aimed at overcoming the communications blackout that happens when a spacecraft re-enters Earth’s atmosphere from orbit.

Almost every spacecraft that has returned to Earth has suffered a break in communications during re-entry as the atmosphere slows it down. The same friction that decelerates the spacecraft also heats the air below the craft until it ionises into a glowing, conductive plasma. This quickly forms a…

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