In my story, there is a crew of 7 astronauts in cryogenic suspension traveling through interstellar space. But all of a sudden, an asteroid hits their ship and they are forced to make a landing on a planet in uncharted space. My question is, could a spaceship survive the crash landing on the planet.

  • The planet they land on is extremely earthlike, with the same gravity, oxygen level, and it even has some life on it.
  • Their spacecraft is about the same size as the space shuttle The ship slows down to the average speed of a craft re entering earth
  • It has heat shields to re-enter the planet's atmosphere
  • The crew makes a water landing
  • There is a parachute but it malfunctions The cryopods are capable of sustaining g forces The ship is made out of titanium alloy Could they survive the impact of crashing on the planet?
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    $\begingroup$ This seems more like a question about the outcome of the situation you've constructed not about building a fictional world. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Dec 18 '17 at 1:01
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    $\begingroup$ I'm concerned about the idea of an interstellar ship the size of a space shuttle. That tells me you've either got a VERY efficient thruster package or your astronauts have been asleep for a VERY long time. Are you very close to the end of your journey? if not, the relativistic speeds alone would have destroyed the craft with an asteroid strike and even if it didn't, you'd have a LOT of speed to burn off before approaching a planet at anything close to a safe speed. This question is really about velocity but doesn't contain the detail needed for a good answer. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B II
    Dec 18 '17 at 1:11
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    $\begingroup$ 1) If they hit something at close to the speed of light, they won't just be vaporized, they'll be plasmaized. 2) If there's an Earthlike planet near their path, they will know about it, since it requires a star. 3) Hitting the planet at near lightspeed has the same effect on the ship as hitting the asteroid, plus it's not going to do the planet much good, either. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Dec 18 '17 at 2:22
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    $\begingroup$ There is not enough information to answer this question. How fast are they going? What is their ship made of? Are the cryo-pods designed for X g's of shock? If you want them to survive, they can survive. Plenty of astronauts have survived water landings here on Earth. I vote to close this question as opinion based. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Dec 18 '17 at 2:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Bryan sphennings, despite his best efforts, can do no more than 20% of the work of putting your question on hold. He had the decency to tell you why he was putting it on hold, so it is better that you find a reason to change his mind (i.e. edit the question) than address him in comments as you did. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Dec 18 '17 at 2:43

There are too many variables and not enough information provided.

When you say interstellar space, you are talking about travel between stars. For this to happen in any meaningful time frame, your ship has to be travelling a not-trivial fraction of the speed of light. Without enough fuel to slow down, the ship will fly right past an entire star system. The ship must be in good enough shape to slow down AND navigate into a planetary orbit. The default condition would be to not slow down enough, and skip right by.

Secondly, if the whole crew is in suspended animation, who is making the decision to land? Easy answer could be the ship computer. Why would it want to land? If it was in good enough shape to enter a solar system and enter a planetary orbit, why land? In most cases, space or a comet or asteroid is safer. You could pick up the raw materials you need from almost any of these without getting dangerously close to a gravity well or atmosphere.

Third, what is uncharted space? If the crew is in suspended animation and travelling at sub-light speeds, they are practically limited to around less than one hundred light years from Earth (very well charted, although we do find something new every now and again).

If you can shed the velocity, and if you can enter a stable orbit, and if you can use enough fuel to slow down for entry - provided you slow down enough, you won't heat up at all. It's only because most entry vehicles hit the upper atmosphere at several times the speed of sound that they undergo heating. This is because they don't extra fuel to do the braking, they let the atmosphere do it for them.

It doesn't matter if it is a water landing or a ground landing, if your vehicle hits at much over forty miles per hour, the likelihood of the vehicle made out of conventional materials surviving is low. Then again, you could have inertial dampeners which protect the crew inside from the shock and an unobtanium metal frame that can take the hit. Perhaps the parachute doesn't malfunction until just a few feet before the landing, but why if you have so much advanced technology do you have a parachute?


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