Atmospheric reentry

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Atmospheric reentry is the movement of human-made or natural objects as they enter the atmosphere of a planet from outer space, in the case of Earth from an altitude above the Kármán Line, (100 km). This article primarily addresses the process of controlled reentry of vehicles which are intended to reach the planetary surface intact, but the topic also includes uncontrolled (or minimally controlled) cases, such as the intentionally or circumstantially occurring, destructive deorbiting of satellites and the falling back to the planet of "space junk" due to orbital decay.

Vehicles that undergo this process include ones returning from orbit (spacecraft) and ones on exo-orbital (suborbital) trajectories (ICBM reentry vehicles, some spacecraft). 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.


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