View Full Version : Space shuttle question

Nickname Boomer
March 12th, 2008, 07:47 PM
I was thinking about it cause of all the recent hoopla about the shuttle mission, in the air or should I say space now. Why is it so difficult to exit and renter the atmosphere? It seems High altitude drones and weather balloons come very close all the time. Without much fuss. I did a quick google search but came up with nothing.

Any help would be appreciated; even if you could point me to an informative website.

March 12th, 2008, 08:15 PM
Weather balloons and the like are much less massive and enter the atmosphere at significantly lower velocities, which minimizes the friction when passing through the Earth's atmosphere.

March 12th, 2008, 08:41 PM
The trick is the speed. There's no terminal velocity without atmosphere, so you pick up insane speeds and THEN hit atmo. Friction is not your friend at that point.

Sort of the same reason that jumping off a diving board isn't a big deal, but jumping off a bridge is.

Nickname Boomer
March 12th, 2008, 09:08 PM
That makes sense so its the speed of the shuttle, now my brain will move on to other things.

You folk just rock

March 12th, 2008, 11:24 PM
Drones and weather balloons are all suborbital devices, on the other hand spacecrafts like the american space shuttle or the russian soyuz have to de-orbit from orbital flights and re-enter the Earth atmosphere at very high speed (around Mach 25 ie around 6 miles per second).

The geometry of the shuttle (who's only a glider during re-entre, no propulsion) makes it a bit more difficult on the heat shield (the black part underneath the spacecraft) than more conservative ships like Soyuz or the old Apollo capsules. Nasa decided for the next generation of spacecraft to go back to this more simple design. Orion, the successor of the shuttle, will be (when it's ready) a super-sized Apollo capsule. For more information on the Constellation program:


March 15th, 2008, 02:19 PM
ALL GREAT INFO... I enjoy reading all about NASA and what not.