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How much does weight affect re-entry into the atmosphere?

  1. Sep 21, 2015 #1
    Sorry if this is a dumb question. How much of an impact does weight have on reentry? I know it's extremely important on lift off due to fuel costs but is it any different on reentry? Are there certain trajectories calculated for different weights?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 21, 2015 #2
    A more massive vehicle has greater inertia which it must dispose of to reach the ground safely.
    It will take longer for the atmosphere to slow it down.
    I guess this is factor which is taken account when determining the best angle for re-entry, and it would also be a consideration when designing ancilliary gear need for re-entry, such as the braking parachutes.
    (This is assuming that the plan is to recover the vehicle and it's contents, in other cases the plan would be to ensure that a re-entering satellite does mostly burn up and poses a minpmum risk of large parts arriving on the ground.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2015
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