Watch What It’s Like To Be An Astronaut Returning To Earth

This footage is so incredibly rare that it almost seems like it’s from a sci-fi movie.

1. This is the view from the Soyuz capsule, the spacecraft that takes astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS), as it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere in March.

NASA / Via youtube.com

There’s no words that can accurately describe the profound and overwhelming experience of falling to Earth in a spacecraft, but now you can actually see what it’s like to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere from the rare perspective of an astronaut.

2. Astronaut Mike Hopkins filmed the incredibly powerful trip as he returned from the ISS earlier this year.

Astronaut Mike Hopkins / NASA / Reuters

The ethereal imagery of the “shooting stars” may actually be pieces of the Soyuz’s “burning” heat shield, suggests Popular Science. Pieces of the shield are designed to burn away during the high temperature of the shock wave, according to NASA.

Temperatures are so high that air molecules are broken, creating an electrically charged plasma that surrounds the Soyuz. According to Terminal Velocity Aerospace, temperatures can exceed 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

And, upon re-entry, the spacecraft is hypersonic, or traveling faster than the speed of sound. According to NASA, re-entry speeds are near 17,500 mph, which is why it takes less than three and a half hours to return to Earth.

3. And this is what it feels like to be inside the Soyuz during re-entry.

ESA Human Spaceflight and Operations (HSO) Astronaut Training Division / Via youtube.com

The European Space Agency shared footage from an earlier mission that really captures the fragile feeling of being an astronaut during the harsh conditions of re-entry.

4. To see more footage from astronaut Mike Hopkins’ trip, watch the entire video below:

NASA / Via youtube.com

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