How astronauts get back to Earth

ted:

There’s nothing quite like floating in outer space, says astronaut Chris Hadfield. Until you look down at that giant blue orb housing your entire species and you’re left with the inevitable question: "How will I ever get home?" 

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This is how: By plummeting through the atmosphere squashed into a tiny capsule with a bunch of other people. The return trip starts in the Soyuz space capsule, which detaches from the space station and plummets toward the Earth’s atmosphere.

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That tiny capsule comes rocketing back to Earth with the force of a meteorite. Hadfield says it’s not the pee-your-pants-in-fear experience that you might imagine. “We weren’t screaming, we were laughing,” he says. “It was fun." (He had obviously never seen the landing gif below.)

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As the capsule gets closer to land, a parachute opens to slow it down, and shock absorbers kick in on impact.  

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Once the capsule has finally stopped rolling and catapulting and otherwise traumatizing everyone inside, a team on the ground “reaches in, drags you out and plunks you in a chair.”   

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That’s when Hadfield says he begins to fully appreciate what he’s done. He says, ”You have taken the dreams of that nine-year-old boy, which were impossible and dauntingly scary, and put them into practice.” 

Thumbs up, Colonel. We’re impressed. Watch the full talk here »

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