MadSci Network: Physics

Re: Why can't space vehicles establish a geo-stationary orbit for re-entry?

Date: Mon May 15 13:01:06 2006
Posted By: Keith Jones, Head of Physics/Deputy Head, Rhyl HS
Area of science: Physics
ID: 1147539564.Ph

Hello Vaughn. 

A geo-stationary orbit doesn't mean that the object isn't moving; it's 
actually travelling around the Earth, over 22,000 miles away from us, at 
a speed of roughly 7,000 mph! This movement in sequence with the Earth's 
rotation, means that it "appears" to be not moving.

So as the space vehicle comes hurtling back into re-entry, it actually 
gets slowed down quite a bit by the resistive forces of the Earth's 
atmosphere, hence the high temperatures.

I hope this answers your query.

Head of Physics
Rhyl High School
North Wales,
United Kingdom

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