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Thrilling NASA video shows what it’s like to hurtle through Earth’s atmosphere on reentry

Published Dec 14th, 2023 5:25PM EST
illustration of Artemis missions and SLS rocket stages
Image: Vadimsadovski / Adobe

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It has been a year since NASA’s Orion spacecraft reentered the atmosphere after completing a 1.4 million-mile journey around the moon. To celebrate the completion of this historic mission, NASA has released a new reentry video showing exactly what the spacecraft saw on its way back down to Earth’s surface.

NASA shared the video on Twitter and included a link to the full Orion reentry video for anyone who wants to see it in its entirety. The Orion spacecraft was a massive part of the Artemis I mission, and the entirety of its purpose was to see just how well the spacecraft would handle travel through space.

With Artemis I proving so successful, NASA is already looking forward to Artemis II, which will see astronauts aboard the spacecraft as it travels to the moon and back. They won’t actually set down on our planet’s satellite, but it will help prove that Orion is worthy of carrying the next set down to the Moon’s surface with Artemis III.

Remembering these past missions is important because it helps us understand the lengths that astronomers and engineers have gone to to make these kinds of missions possible. The full-length video of Orion’s reentry into Earth’s atmosphere is 25 minutes long, and it showcases the spacecraft slowly falling towards the Earth’s surface before it hits the atmosphere once again.

Once it hits the atmosphere, hot flames can be seen behind it, created by the friction of the spacecraft falling through our planet’s protective shell. It’s an intriguing view that shows just how powerful the force of reentry can be, and you can even hear the sounds of the spacecraft as it completes its reentry.

You can even see pieces of the ablative heat shield that was fixed to the outside of the vehicle breaking off due to the extreme heat and friction caused by the reentry.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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