Concept

Aerobraking

Summary
Aerobraking is a spaceflight maneuver that reduces the high point of an elliptical orbit (apoapsis) by flying the vehicle through the atmosphere at the low point of the orbit (periapsis). The resulting drag slows the spacecraft. Aerobraking is used when a spacecraft requires a low orbit after arriving at a body with an atmosphere, as it requires less fuel than using propulsion to slow down. Method When an interplanetary vehicle arrives at its destination, it must reduce its velocity to achieve orbit or to land. To reach a low, near-circular orbit around a body with substantial gravity (as is required for many scientific studies), the required velocity changes can be on the order of kilometers per second. Using propulsion, the rocket equation dictates that a large fraction of the spacecraft mass must consist of fuel. This reduces the science payload and/or requires a large and expensive rocket. Provided the target body has an atmosphere, aerobraking can be used to reduce fue
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