This Is the Wild View Astronauts See During Reentry

A video of the spectacular view astronauts see while in the midst of reentry is going viral on Twitter. And even though the video wasn’t captured by Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley—the pair of astronauts who recently returned from the International Space Station—it does let us in on what they saw during their 3,000 °F return home.

Twitter user Wonder of Science posted the clip above, which was taken from a 2014 NASA video. NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins captured it during reentry aboard the Russian-made Soyuz capsule.

In the brief clip, we watch as the capsule’s pressure wave ionizes atmospheric particles. As Forbes notes, re-entering space vehicles create a lot of pressure. So much so that they turn the atmosphere around them into “a superheated shroud of incandescent plasma.”

An astronaut captured video of what Earth reentry in a capsule looks like.


Unfortunately, it’s hard to say what Behnken and Hurley saw on their return journey home aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule. While Crew Dragon does have windows, it doesn’t appear that the astronauts or SpaceX recorded footage through them. Although even if nobody captured video of that view on this trip, it doubtlessly will be on future ones.

Anybody who wants to get the full scoop on Hopkins’ Soyuz return should check out the this NASA video. Smithsonian Magazine picked up on that explainer, which offers a look at how the Soyuz returns to Earth.

And for anyone who’s inspired to learn more about the Crew Dragon now, SpaceX has some great overview videos. But nothing beats watching the real capsule parachute into the ocean (immediately above.) Except for maybe some onboard footage of whatever Behnken and Hurley saw out their windows upon reentry, of course.

What do you think about this brief clip of what astronauts see during reentry? Let’s burn things up in the comments, people!

Feature image: NASA 

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