Would this be technically possible? You all know how a thrust reverser works - directing the flow of exhaust against the airflow, causing lots more drag and helping to slow down.
So, why can't they have a small rocket jet near the shuttle's nose (actually they do - they are used in space as steering jets), and fire them when in the atmosphere. They would be firing FORWARD, going against the airflow, and theoretically it shouldd help to slow down the airspeed. Right? Or, have a thrust-reverser type of device on the main engine so if they fired it, it would go against the airflow.
When you think about it this seems like it should work. Maybe some of you tech-types can shoot down (no puns intended) my theory.