Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Chapter 13: Reentry
The reentry begins at the height of 120 kilometers. At this point the Clipper still has a velocity of around 28.000 kilometers per hour.
Entering the atmosphere at this speed compresses the air in front of the glider. The air heats up until it turns into a super-hot plasma tail. A heat-absorbing shield protects the cabin inside the Clipper. It's porose material basically works like a sponge.
The main goal of the reentry is to slow down. During this, the flat curve of the flight-path has to stay between two extremes:
A too steep entrance angle will burn the Clipper up. While on a too flat curve, the breaking effect of the atmosphere won't be strong enough to descent further. The Clipper would stay on a very low orbit.