In the ending of my book, the closing scene is the control room of the mangled and torn-up starship diving into the atmosphere (maybe not so dramatic) on its fusion engines, slowing down and sliding with a sizzle into the ocean, with a view of the capital city, Elysium, and a convoy of choppers with military and first response crews closing in.
I was actually more concerned with the closing words of the book, to set the backdrop for the probable sequel, but I realized that I didn't actually know if a starship can even survive propulsive reentry, let alone slamming into the ocean.
Sure, I can hand-wave a little of the last part because the laidenfrost effect should keep the water off the ship until the inside floods, but I don't actually know what would or would not let such a ship survive reentry.
Could any cargo ship survive slow, propulsive reentry? Assuming that its drives can deliver 1+ Gs of acceleration and won't collapse on impact with the launchpad / space-x-chopstick-arms / ocean.
Do note: I am talking about a starship built like the typical sort-of-combat-rated spaceship in the expanse. I would give details about the ships systems but let's just use the expanse because it's simple and the differences are negligible. It has shield panels, engines, maneuvering thrusters, all there usual.
If not, then what is the minimum a ship needs to survive reentering? Intuitively, I'd assume that the only issues would be atmospheric heating and maybe possible issues with a vaccum-tuned fusion engine, but theres also maneuvering engines or strap-on SRBs.
Also note: I am talking about a habitable, earth-like planet with a 1 ATM pressure atmosphere, with earth like mass.