Welcome to Blunt Reentry

Entry Systems Modeling (ESM)

Blunt Reentry is a newsletter written by me, Ankit Panda, the Stanton senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. I’ve spent the last decade writing on international security and nuclear issues, with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region. I’m currently based in New York City.

This newsletter will consist of organized and disorganized ruminations on my ongoing research interests and other intellectual hobby horses, which currently range everything from nuclear weapons to Asian geopolitics to American foreign policy and urbanism and design. Subscriber issues will be focus on focus, long-form analysis of news topics and other urgent matters.

Who Are You?

My writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, The Diplomat, and elsewhere. I used to write nearly daily at The Diplomat, where I was an editor for seven years, and penned a column for the South China Morning Post. In 2020, my first book, ‘Kim Jong Un and the Bomb: Survival and Deterrence in North Korea’ was published by Hurst Publishers and Oxford University Press. Before joining the Carnegie Endowment, I was an adjunct senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists. I’ve also consulted for various organizations and governments—mostly on matters related to nuclear weapons, arms control, defense, and international security.

Ankit Panda
A picture of me.

I’m editor-at-large at The Diplomat, where I’ve been hosting the Asia Geopolitics podcast since 2014, and a contributing editor at War on the Rocks. (My first Substack newsletter was written for The Diplomat.) I also main a high volume Twitter feed—for better and worse—at @nktpnd. Many of the ideas in this newsletter will likely germinate on my Twitter feed.

My full professional biography is available here and my personal website is here.

Should I Subscribe?

That’s entirely up to you. I hope that this newsletter will provide something of value for those who choose to read it. If that’s you, then do consider subscribing.

Subscriber issues of this newsletter will largely focus on time sensitive analysis of ongoing events. Promptness is and will be prized.

Open issues, meanwhile, may be shorter and focus on historical matters and general research notes from my ongoing work. Subscribers will have my thanks and receive commenting access when that is implemented.

What Does Blunt Reentry Mean?

This newsletter’s title is a riff on the blunt-body reentry vehicle: an inelegant—albeit effective—means of returning a payload from space into the Earth’s atmosphere and to her surface.

Early spacecraft and ballistic missile reentry vehicles alike made use of heat shield-toting blunt-body reentry vehicles. These remain in use for space capsules designed to return humans to Earth, but many advanced long-range missiles have moved on to more aerodynamic ablative designs.

My hope is that the writing here will be clean and blunt. Reentry, I suppose, corresponds to the notion of floating new ideas and thoughts and letting them fall down to Earth when they should. The newsletter’s icon image originates from a NASA experiment in 1957, demonstrating the aerodynamic properties of a blunt reentry body. The image above is an August 2020 NASA image from the Entry Systems Modeling (ESM) technology development project.

What If I Notice an Error?

This newsletter is self-edited, which will mean a lower standard of typographic accuracy than I’d otherwise prefer. Please forgive typos in advance.

If I misstate a fact or you otherwise differ in good faith with my analysis, please do reach out to me directly. I am hoping to feature trenchant reader commentary in subsequent newsletter issues to hopefully encourage something of a community.

Subscribe to Blunt Reentry

Nuclear weapons, missiles, Asia, space, technology, politics, and more. Written by Ankit Panda.


I’m the Stanton Senior Fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC.