An artist's impression of Orion re-entering Earth's atmosphere

Artist’s impression of the Orion capsule re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. The original object returned safely to Earth in 2022


SpaceX is testing a system intended to overcome communications blackouts that occur when spacecraft re-enter Earth’s atmosphere from orbit.

Almost every spacecraft that has returned to Earth has had a communication breakdown during re-entry as the atmosphere slows it down. The same friction that decelerates the spacecraft also heats the air beneath the craft until it turns into a glowing, conductive plasma. It quickly forms a…