How to Land the Space Shuttle... from Space

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  • ℹ️ Description
NOT AN ASTRONAUT; NO AFFILIATION WITH NASA. I was dressed up for Halloween. Presented on October 31st, 2016 at Stack Overflow’s Remote Meetup in Philadelphia. #PhillyCheeseStack

Sorry about the autofocus (we disabled it in later talks). Me running around on stage didn't help. As always, send complaints to Steve.


This was one of nine "Tiny Talks" given over three days at the meetup. Every year, employees submit Tiny Talk ideas on a wide range of topics (some completely random and not company-related at all, like this one) and we vote on which ones we want to hear. So, thank you to my coworkers for voting me in.

Original proposal description I submitted for this talk:

Let's say you're traveling at about 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 km/h) in low earth orbit, your main engines are out of fuel, and it's your job to guide the spaceship through a fiery re-entry without burning up or skipping out of the atmosphere, navigate to your landing site, and arrive with just enough energy to make an unpowered landing on a runway which is halfway around the planet from where you started. And, of course, either you succeed on your first try, or everyone dies. So, no pressure…. In this talk, I'll show you how space shuttle designers, pilots, and autopilots managed to do just that.


All real-life photos and videos (except the last slide) were produced by NASA. Everything that looks hand-drawn was done by me on a Wacom Intuos Pro tablet in ArtRage. Animations were done in After Effects. Between the concept, outline, script, artwork, animations, rehearsals, and editing, I spent somewhere around 200 hours over two months working on it. Very little time was spent researching. In case it wasn't obvious, I've been more than a little obsessed with the topic for years now.

Download — How to Land the Space Shuttle... from Space

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💬 Comments on the video

Thank you, I was just on my way into reentry

Author — Do It With Dan


Only 1 shot at landing? Um.. have they never heard of holding F9 to reload their quicksave?

Author — EwerWhaleCum


I wonder if space shuttle astronauts hop in regular airplanes and think “too easy!” When they fly haha!

Author — Logan H.


Youtube: How to land a space shuttle

Me at 3 am: I must find out immediately

Author — pranjal farhan


You have a talent for explaining things in a manner that is clear and entertaining, you need to make more.

Author — Useless Duck Company


Every Country: *The runway is 4572 meters long*
USA: *It is 52 football fields*

Author — VibezVideo


Pilot: Says literally anything

Commander: I agree.

Author — Conrail


Bret: A Flying Brick

Me: *grabs a brick and sticks wings on it*
Now to land this thing

Author — The101Ranger


Why am i watching this.I don’t even have space shuttle

Author — Scooraft


Pilot:'' you look good''
CDR:'' I agree ''


Author — Denali • 9 years ago


Dude you’re really well spoken and you combine your articulate points with humour. Awesome. Thank you from 🇬🇧

Author — 1000 subs before the end of quarantine


For a "NOT AN ASTRONAUT" this was an awesome walkthrough of reentry to touch down. Having grown up watching these missions, it's just cool to see the process. The injected humor was fun too. Yeah, watching the landing through the HUD was really cool too. Thanks for sharing!

Author — Jeff P


Question: "How to land the Space Shuttle from space?
Answer: "Very carefully..."

Author — Proxima Rem


They're not flying, they're falling with style

Author — Shay J.


Instructions unclear. I am now in prison in Colombia.

Author — CKA


Intended to watch a few minutes of this... Ended up watching the entire clip.
Excellent speaker

Author — What's the answer ?


2 o clock in the morning. Youtube: "I think you should know about how a Space Shuttle lands." Me: "Okay!"

Author — possumGFX


In all seriousness, this presentation was dang good.

Author — yocheckitman


This man is somehow extremely nervous and extremely confident at the same time

Author — Taylor The Warlock


Pilot: "We're about to eat dirt."
Commander: "...I agree."

Author — David Blanchard