Direct Access to the

Glossary: 0#  A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z
Companies: 0# A B C D E  F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Deutsch: Aerobremse / Español: Aerofrenado / Português: Aerofrenagem / Français: Aérofreinage / Italiano: Aerofrenata

Aerobrake in the space industry context refers to a technique used to reduce the speed of a spacecraft as it enters a planet’s atmosphere, utilizing atmospheric drag as a braking force. This method is particularly useful for conserving fuel and reducing the weight of additional hardware that would otherwise be required for deceleration.


Aerobraking involves deliberately guiding a spacecraft into a planet's upper atmosphere at a calculated altitude where the atmospheric density is sufficient to create drag without causing excessive heating or structural damage. The technique is used primarily when a spacecraft needs to enter orbit around a planet or slow down for landing. It can be a critical part of interplanetary missions, allowing spacecraft to achieve orbital insertion around planets like Mars or Venus with significantly reduced fuel consumption.

Application Areas

  1. Orbital Insertion: Aerobraking is often used when a spacecraft arrives at another planet to help it achieve the desired orbit without using excessive amounts of rocket fuel.
  2. Mission End-of-life: It can also be used to deorbit satellites or other space debris, guiding them into denser parts of the Earth's atmosphere where they will burn up.
  3. Landing on Planetary Surfaces: In some cases, aerobraking is part of the landing sequence on bodies with atmospheres, like Mars, helping to reduce the velocity of a landing craft.

Well-Known Examples

  • Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO): NASA’s MRO used aerobraking to achieve its science orbit around Mars. The spacecraft used the Martian atmosphere to slow down and adjust its orbit over several months.
  • Venus Express: ESA's Venus Express mission used aerobraking to lower its orbit around Venus and gather data from lower altitudes before the end of its mission.

Treatment and Risks

While aerobraking is a highly effective method for reducing speed, it comes with several risks and challenges:

  • Thermal Stress: The spacecraft must withstand high thermal loads due to friction as it passes through the atmosphere.
  • Structural Integrity: Repeated passes through the atmosphere can impose structural stress on the spacecraft, necessitating robust design and materials.
  • Navigation and Control: Precise control and navigation are required to maintain the correct trajectory and avoid too deep an entry into the atmosphere, which could lead to overheating or loss of control.


In the space industry, aerobrake is a technique used to efficiently reduce a spacecraft’s velocity using atmospheric drag, saving fuel and reducing the need for heavy deceleration systems. It requires careful planning and robust spacecraft design to manage the associated thermal and structural stresses effectively.


No comments

Do you have more interesting information, examples? Send us a new or updated description !

If you sent more than 600 words, which we can publish, we will -if you allow us - sign your article with your name!

Related Articles

Boosting ■■■■■■■
Boosting refers to the use of additional propulsion to increase the speed or altitude of a spacecraft . . . Read More
Aerobraking ■■■■■■■
in the space industry refers to a maneuver used to reduce the speed and alter the orbit of a spacecraft . . . Read More
Airspeed ■■■■■■
Airspeed in the space industry context generally refers to the speed of a spacecraft or launch vehicle . . . Read More
Geostationary Satellite ■■■■■■
Geostationary Satellite in the space industry context refers to a type of satellite that is specifically . . . Read More
Exosphere ■■■■■
Exosphere: The exosphere is the outermost layer of Earth's atmosphere. It begins where the thermosphere . . . Read More
Deorbiting ■■■■■
Deorbiting in the space industry context refers to the process of intentionally lowering a spacecraft . . . Read More
Aerocapture ■■■■■
Aerocapture in the space industry context refers to a maneuver used to place a spacecraft into orbit . . . Read More
Gravitation ■■■■■
Gravitation: In the aerospace context, gravitation refers to the force of attraction between two objects . . . Read More
Aircraft flight mechanics ■■■■■
Aircraft flight mechanics in the space industry refers to the principles and techniques used to understand . . . Read More
Mariner ■■■■■
In the aerospace context, "Mariner" is the name of a series of American spacecraft missions conducted . . . Read More