Returning to Earth

During the Apollo missions, the Gemini missions and all Russian missions, the crew stay in a capsule which is protected by a heat shield for re-entry.

Using the atmosphere as a brake or aerobraking, the capsule slows down enough for the parachutes to engage which then slows it enough for a rather uncomfortable landing.

US capsules usually land in the Pacific Ocean and the crew and capsule are picked up by helicopters and brought aboard a carrier.

Russian and Chinese capsules land in desert areas.  Soyuz capsules apply rockets at the last second before touchdown to soften the landing.

Soyuz landing - it is softer than it looks.

Apollo 15 splash down.  Note how tiny the capsule is, all that is left of the giant Saturn V rocket.

The re-entry of Apollo 13 from the 1995 movie!