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In the Star Wars universe, we've seen ships enter and leave atmospheres with no problem. However, in real life ships re-entering atmospheres tend to re-heat. We only see one time a ship burn up on re-entry, and that is in Revenge of the Sith where the capital ship is crashing down to Coruscant. Is there an explanation ever given on why ships don't generate any heat when they re-enter a planet's atmosphere?

  • Improved materials technology, shields and the ability to come in using anti-gravity. Theoretically, if you could come straight down at a few hundred mph, you'd hardly heat up at all. – Valorum Dec 30 '16 at 21:51
  • Physics – Edlothiad Dec 30 '16 at 21:52
  • Deflector Shields. Didn't feel like making this an answer cause I don't feel like going into a long scientific answer about it. But yeah. What @Valorum said, also dang it Valorum I wanted first post. – UmßraDivisio Dec 30 '16 at 21:53
  • Haha, I didn't see that part of your question mentioning RotS – Gallifreyan Dec 30 '16 at 21:58
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    The way we do space travel is we fling stuff into orbit, using little fuel to stay there, hang out for a while and then slow down enough to fall back to earth. Most science fiction envisions powered flight while in space, so unless your speed is really high, there is no particular reason you would heat up entering an atmosphere. If you are moving at, or above, orbital velocity the atmosphere is not going to be able to get out of the way fast enough, so you slow down via friction. (generating heat) – Seeds Dec 30 '16 at 23:10
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Rey practices on a simulator in Star Wars: Before the Awakening. As you can see, one of the key elements to a safe and successful atmospheric entry is the use of repulsorlift engines. Theoretically, a ship coming in at a high enough angle would experience practically no heating from the atmosphere, assuming it had some way of slowing itself before it ploughed into the ground.

At first, she’d been truly horrible at it, quite literally crashing a few seconds after takeoff every time. With nothing else to do, and with a perverse sense of determination that she would not allow herself to be beaten by a machine that she herself had put together with her own hands, she learned. She learned so much that there was little the program could throw her way that would challenge her now. She’d gotten to the point where she would, quite deliberately, do everything she could think of to make things hard on herself, just to see if she could get out of it. Full-throttle atmospheric reentry with repulsor-engine failure? No sweat.

We know from the junior novelisation of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith that larger vessels have physical heat shields.

Through the smoking viewport, Anakin caught glimpses of the towering buildings of Coruscant streaking past below them. Too close. We’re too low, too soon. R2-D2 beeped madly, and Anakin gestured at one of the controls. “Keep us level,” he told the droid, and went back to work to slow them down.
“Steady,” Obi-Wan said. “Five thousand.”
“Hang on,” Anakin said. “This may get a little rough. We lost our heat shields.” “Landing strip’s straight ahead,” Obi-Wan said a moment later.

as from Star Wars Rebels: A New Dawn we learn that smaller vessels and lifepods also use this sort of tech

There was little she could do, except put the life pod’s reentry heat shield between them and the blast. The TIE fighter pursuing them was slower to react. Superheated particles from the explosion ripped through the vessel’s hexagonal wings, causing the starfighter to tear violently apart. A shock wave comprising not air but plasma and matter expanding outward from the blast zone slammed into their life pod.

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