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Next Russian space capsule could land on a gentle cushion of fire

Tim Stevens

We're all used to space vehicles making a fiery ascents into the heavens whilst sitting atop massive, earth-shaking rockets that fill the sky with light and hearts with awe. What's a little more unusual is a spacecraft that relies on the same technique make a gentle return trip. Ships landing under rocket power have been bandied about for decades, but now the Russians seem intent to make it a reality for their next space capsule. The current Soyuz capsules do use rockets to cushion landings, firing at the last seconds before touchdown, but still descent is largely managed by a series of parachutes. This next-gen ship would forgo such frilly things in favor of rather more pyrotechnic ones, a change that sounds rather exciting but, to be honest, somewhat less than reliable. Given our choice we'd probably take a halo of silk above rather than a pack of explosives below, thanks.

[Via BBC News]

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