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Space Exploration/Earth's Atmosphere

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Question
Why must we enter atmosphere at high speeds?

Why can't we slow down and ease in like we do in our Oceans?

Answer
Hi, David.  Thanks for writing.  When a spacecraft is in orbit around the earth, or coming in from the solar system, it is traveling at a terrific speed, relative to the earth.  Slowing down using fuel is beyond the spacecraft's ability to carry that much.  At the proper angle and adequate protection (the heat shield), the spacecraft can slow down to a safe speed, using the friction from the atmosphere, and then drop into the ocean (or glide, using wings, in the case of the shuttle, to a runway).  Write anytime!

Space Exploration

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Kenneth Renshaw

Expertise

Answer basic space flight questions, research info on specific space flights. Answer questions on astronomy

Experience

Amateur astronomer and avid astronomy/space flight fan for 31 years.

Organizations
Official NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador for Arkansas and Missouri (one of about 300 nationwide). (http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/ambassador/profiles/Kenneth_Renshaw.htm)

Publications
Numerous local and area newspapers.

Education/Credentials
AA/BME/MME

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