Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Inflatable heat shield test

Packed into a 15-inch shroud payload, a newly developed inflatable heat shield was recently put through its paces by NASA engineers. Launched to a height of 124 miles, the shield automatically inflated itself into a 10-foot diameter mushroom shape of silicone-coated fabric. Given the success of the mission, which splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean, NASA is hopeful that the shield will be useful not only for re-entries into the earths atmosphere, but also as a shield for future Mars missions, where space and weight are at a premium. More info at popsci.com