20

Crumple zone. source Your pilot realizes they are coming down too fast. They are thru the atmosphere thanks to the heat shield but they are in free fall and they are going to hit hard. She cannot slow down but maneuvering thrusters are ok; she pivots so they come in tail first. She uses the rear of the ship as a crumple zone to slow them down.


13

I don't see a realism tag on this question, but realism is all I know, so I'll give it my best shot :) What happens during re-entry? When you reenter from Earth orbit, you are going very fast, around 8500 meters every second. That is very fast. When you reenter from a higher orbit or trajectory (such as Apollo, which reentered directly from the lunar ...


11

How about a textbook perfect landing, but on top of something that couldn't hold it's weight? A sinkhole under only part of the ship causes it to fall over, leading to all manner of damage wherever the author finds it most convenient. Perhaps some megafauna attacks the landed ship, but can only reach the areas you want destroyed. Some random schmuck was ...


8

Heat shield failure This happened to me A LOT in KSP before heat shields were introduced and before I got the gist of it. I would often try an insertion in Eve or Laythe and lose the bottom part of my landers, which was specially infuriating when it meant whatever was left didn't have all the components I wanted on ground, or when the vessel landed in an ...


3

Redundant heat shields The designers of your gigantic spacecraft knew that a "hot reentry" was a possibility and designed accordingly. Different sections of the ship have their own heat shields just in case one section of the primary heat shield fails. There's a precedent for this style of design on vessels the size of your spaceship. Boats and ships are ...


3

(For the convenience of Mr. Anderson, this answer is given mostly in Imperial units, with the occasional exception for illustrative purposes) A bit of context Space is hard to survive in. Humans are used to around one atmosphere of pressure, with about 20% oxygen, somewhere around 1G of acceleration, around 283-380 °K (a really small margin), etc. Space, ...


3

Not even remotely plausible without serious modifications to our understanding of physics. The notions of space warfare found in almost all modern science fiction are lifted from modern (since the 1940s) naval warfare. Naval warfare is the way it is because of the unique set of practical and physical restrictions present at sea in the 20th and 21st ...


2

Collision. The spacecraft hit something as it was coming in. It was small enough that it did tear things up too badly but it did damage the heat shield. The craft was large enough to survive this but the fire tore at it a lot.


2

Something caused by the passengers waking up. Since they presumably traveled for years in cryosleep, and the automated systems functioned for weeks or months after arriving at the planet, the problem probably isn't mechanical or it would have happened earlier. This must be a problem that only occurs, or only matters, once passengers are awakened. Some ...


1

Instantaneous detection and teleportation Space is very big. Really big. So if you could dodge any incoming missile, bullet, drone, projectile and even laser, by instantly transporting to an alternate location of your choosing, this would be a good way to be untouchable. All these weapons would quickly become ineffective. You already have wormhole ...


1

How old is your colony ship? Assuming it left earth at slower than light speed travel, decades or centuries of wear and tear alone could have caused enough problems to systems that people cannot live in the ship and need to be quickly brought down to the surface. Another possibility is that the landing ship is struck by an object or has a malfunction (again,...


1

Damaged heat shield Landing is a really dangerous time for any spacecraft. The crews of both STS-107 and Soyuz 11 died during reentry, with the Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-107) being destroyed. Columbia suffered damage to its heat shield on takeoff. Below is a recreation of the damage (source). It may not look like much, but even a generation ship could be ...


1

You can do it like they did in Star Wars episode III. Your ship is in bad shape and not really maneouverable. The pilot only manages to steer the ship into a smooth kind of valley where the ship slides on the ground to decelerate. Unfortunately this ship was not designed for horizontal landings, so the lower half is pretty busted, but the top section is ...


1

Take a look at the Alcubierre Drive: https://youtu.be/gHAaoTMrc3A It enables FTL travel and doesn't break any current physics models and avoids the inertia problem. BUT it relies on an exotic fuel. This kind of matter could theoretically exist but has never been even close-to-observed in the real world.


1

Inertia By breaking this one law, we don't have to worry about accelerating too fast, or the amount of energy needed to do so. Relativity is still limiting, but we're only traveling interplanetary distances, not interstellar ones, so that should be okay.


1

There are really two questions here, based around the two attributes of travel you've specified: Speedy As has been pointed out in the comments, 10 million miles a minute is still below the speed of light, so it is theoretically achievable. You'd need an enormous quantity of propellant and the ability to throw it out the back of your ship in a huge hurry, ...


1

Since we want to have a lot of surface area built quickly, we need to find a way to minimize the amount of time and resources to build spaceships and associated systems. To minimize energy costs most of the mining, processing and construction will take place in space. This can be done on the Moon, or using the resources of Near Earth Objects (NEOs), although ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible