Feel the real hell: How Orion burns during entry into the Earth’s atmosphere

NASA shared impressive images on the occasion of the anniversary of the return of the Orion spacecraft after a test flight to the Moon as part of the Artemis I mission. The video was shot from inside the capsule during entry into the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of more than 40 thousand km/h. The aerospace administration posted a short video on the social network X, but later a full 25-minute version appeared.

The entry of a spacecraft into the atmosphere is one of the most dangerous stages of any mission. During the return from space, extreme forces act on the vehicle. That is why to protect it from ultra-high temperatures during rapid descent, the return capsules are covered with a thermal shield. Lockheed Martin’s Orion is equipped with this shield.

Although the Orion spacecraft traveled to the Moon and back without a crew, next year NASA will equip the Artemis II lunar mission with four astronauts on board. The video gives us an idea of what they will be going through during the dramatic return to Earth at the end of the 10-day mission. 

You can also hear in the video a number of strange clicking sounds made by the Orion orientation system, which uses maneuvering thrusters to control the spacecraft and helps maintain the required angle during descent before opening the braking parachute. 

Eyewitness impressions of entering the atmosphere

After returning from the International Space Station (ISS) in 2020, during the first test flight with the crew of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, NASA astronaut Bob Behnken described his impressions. He said that the capsule seemed to “really come to life and sound like an animal” when the process of entering the atmosphere began.

“As we descended, through the atmosphere, the thrusters were firing almost continuously. I did record some audio of it, but it doesn’t sound like a machine, it sounds like an animal coming through the atmosphere with all the puffs that are happening from the thrusters and the atmospheric noise. You can hear that rumble outside the vehicle, and as the vehicle tries to control, you feel that little bit of shimmy in your body,” Behnken said shortly after returning from orbit.

The crew of NASA’s Artemis II lunar spacecraft, which is scheduled to fly next November, will most likely also experience something similar.

Earlier, we reported on how NASA celebrated the first year of the record set by the Orion spacecraft.

According to Space 

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