Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Inflatable Heat Shields? NASA says yes

NASA has successfully demonstrated how a spacecraft returning to Earth can use an inflatable heat shield to slow and protect itself as it enters the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. The shield consisted of a 10-foot diameter, mushroom shape, made of several layers of silicone-coated industrial fabric, which was inflated with nitrogen after the test craft was released about 124miles in altitude. The shield experienced maximum atmospheric heating at apx. 6 minutes into the flight and 50 miles up and lasted 30 seconds.

Now that NASA has shown proof of concept, they plan to scale up to more advanced aeroshells capable of handling higher heat rates.

Complete story here

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