Previous ... Next ... Up a Level ... Home


The return to Earth at the end of a mission is a critical and demanding time for the Shuttle crew. Astronauts slow the craft and ease it into Earth's atmosphere by using small rockets in the craft's nose and tail. Then after re-entry, they steer it like an airplane using rudders and flaps as the craft glides Earthward. Here, after having slowed down from 1000 to 100 meters per second, and withstood temperatures of up to 1000 degrees Centigrade, the Space Shuttle Columbia touches down at Edwards Air Force Base, thirty busy minutes after having left Earth orbit.

Listen to caption: Real Audio MP3 Audio