How do spaceships land when they come back to Earth?

The question was “Do rockets land like planes land?” We looked this up, and there are many ways a space ship can land.

The Space Shuttle

Space Shuttle Launch

At 120km from Earth the air gets more dense. The shuttle has to pass through this and slow itself down ready to land. It is still travelling at 30,000 km/h or 18,000mph.

It flies with a nose up attitude (at 40 degrees) to give more drag and so slow it down. Also, this cools it down for re-entry. As it flies towards Earth the shuttle begins it’s transition from spacecraft to aircraft.

To slow down more quickly it makes four s shaped banking turns! (At 70 degrees). By the end of the turns which happen during the hottest phase of re-entry the transition to aircraft is nearly done.

It levels its wings, lowers its nose into a shallow dive and begins its approach to the landing site. to slow it down further the pilots use aerodynamic breaking and deploy a drag chute at touchdown. It has to slow from 682 to 346 km/h (424 to 215 mph), approximately, for touch-down (compared to 260 km/h or 160 mph for a jet airliner). the chute is jettisoned at 110 km/h.

The shuttle lands horizontally as an aeroplane would do.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s