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The power of parachutes

A SpaceX capsule carrying the crew of Axiom-1 splashes down off the coast of Florida thanks to a set of parachutes. Photo: SpaceX
A SpaceX capsule carrying the crew of Axiom-1 splashes down off the coast of Florida thanks to a set of parachutes. Photo: SpaceX

Coming back from space is dangerous. Astronauts in crew capsules are traveling at more than 25 times the speed of sound from space -- and need to slow to just a few miles per hour to land safely back on this planet.

After punching through our atmosphere, capsules like SpaceX’s Crew Dragon use parachutes to make that final descent to Earth and help the crew land comfortably back on the planet. But parachutes are complex. And it takes an incredible amount of engineering to keep those astronauts safe during re-entry.

So what’s it like plummeting from space and landing…alive? We’ll talk to Chris Sembroksi who flew on SpaceX’s Inspiration-4 mission about the sight, sounds and emotions of falling back to Earth.

Then, Boeing’s Starliner is set to depart the station after its demonstration mission successfully reached the International Space Station. It’s a big moment for Boeing and NASA. We’ll talk with Frank Slazer, president and CEO of the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration about this moment in spaceflight history and what’s ahead now that NASA can focus on deep space exploration.

Brendan Byrne is Central Florida Public Media's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing the organization's internship program.

Byrne also hosts Central Florida Public Media's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration.