Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsAstronomy & Space · 1 decade ago

Why is re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere such a dangerous time for the space shuttle and crew aboard???



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11 Answers

  • lefang
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    CALCULATING the re entry point is frought with danger a simple miscalculation could have you land over water, the trajectory and angle of decent needs to be spot on no room for error friction and thus heat are generated, an analogy could be a firing of a rifle when the round leaves the barrel it has already generated suffiecient heat to scorch wood when it arrives at its intended target it will have generated enough heat to glow red and burn wood, that is why they use ceramic coatings on the space shuttle to disperse the terrific amount of heat generated upon re entry into our atmosphere, however there is not only that to contend with, there is the return to gravity, there is the g force exerted upon a frame that was not designed for rapid de exeleration, too quickly and bloodloss to the brain can cause blackouts and brain damage. regards LF

  • 1 decade ago

    Look at it this way: all the energy it took to put the craft into orbit in the first place must be dissipated in order to get the craft back and to a complete stop. On launch this energy is provided by the main engines and solid boosters, but on reentry it is dissipated by the ceramic and carbon fiber heat shield material, aerodynamic pressures in the lower atmosphere, the air brakes, the drag parachute, the tires, and the brakes on the wheels. It is a tremendous amount of energy. If one of many things fails to do it's job then disaster may result (though some are merely conveniences or have backups).

  • 1 decade ago

    when the shuttle re-enters the atmosphere the speed it is traveling at causes a tremendous amount of heat (due to friction as it travels down into our atmosphere) we are talking thousands of degrees. The heat shields on the bottom of the shuttle are the only thing preventing it from burning up, so if one of them fails--boom. If they come in at the wrong angle, they go to fast and burn up. if they come in at too shallow of an angle the shuttle would simply skip off the atmosphere and back into space.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The dense atmosphere causes friction entering at that speed, which causes HEAT. A simple example, on a much lower scale (BUT the same principle) is when you get "Wind Burn" on your face, only times it by 1 million. Angle in too steep, and you'll turn into a piece of molten aluminum, angle in too shallow, and you'll skip back out into space, all radio contact is also lost upon re-entry.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Atmospheric reentry is the process by which vehicles that are outside the atmosphere of a planet can enter that atmosphere and reach the planetary surface intact. Vehicles that undergo this process include spacecraft from orbit, as well as suborbital ICBM reentry vehicles. Typically this process requires special methods to protect against aerodynamic heating. Various advanced technologies have been developed to enable atmospheric reentry and flight at extreme velocities.

  • 1 decade ago

    Friction, if the heat shield fails

    well we all know what's happens then

    the friction caused by the mass of the shuttle and the rentry spead added to the density of the atmosphere =

    extreme friction =-extreme heat

    and if the shield fails burn up

  • oldguy
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    the angle of re-entry is critical because if it is too steep, the shuttle will hit the atmosphere too hard and it will burn up. if it is too shallow, the shuttle will bounce off the atmosphere and go out of control back into space, like skipping a stone on water.

  • me
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    moving through the atmosphere causes friction. friction causes heat. heat causes damage or destruction and perhaps even death.

    BTW (This is the same reason Santa Claus cannot move through the Earth's atmosphere at speeds sufficient to reach the whole Earth in one night - the friction would have burned him up the first time he tried it.)

  • 1 decade ago

    it is due to friction. and gravity of the earth .

    one has to get control ovel friction which may somersault the craft and inside the shuttle gravity increases up to 10G ie a person weiging 60kg will experience 600 kg weight though they wear anti G dress it is hard for them.

    gravity of earth may also cause the craft somersault and one has to maintain angle of attack and to work against the air in atmosphere to land at the desired place..

    i hope this will do.....................

  • 1 decade ago

    Thats why the shuttles nose is build out of porcelaine, it is very resistant to heat and fire caused by the friction.

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