Just before Orion enters Earth’s atmosphere, its crew module will separate from the service module. The service module will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere during reentry. After the service module separates, Orion will perform a new “skip entry” technique that is designed to help the spacecraft accurately splash down at the landing site. According to NASA, this is the first time that a human-rated spacecraft is performing this reentry manoeuvre.
For its skip entry, Orion will dip into the upper part of the atmosphere and use the friction and lift to “skip” out of the atmosphere. After skipping once, it will enter the atmosphere once again for its final descent.
Orion will enter Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of over 40,000 kilometres per hour. The atmosphere will slow down the spacecraft to about 523 kilometres. At an altitude of about 8 kilometres above the Earth’s surface, the spacecraft will begin its parachute deployment. NASA’s livestream of the event has started and you can watch it below.
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