The heat shield for NASA’s Orion spacecraft arrived at the Kennedy Space Center Thursday night aboard a Super Guppy transport aircraft, and was unloaded Friday morning. This Examiner was at the Kennedy Space Center with other reporters Friday morning as the boxed heat shield was carefully moved from the aircraft and lowered by crane onto a large truck bed for transport to Kennedy facilities.
Heat shield test planned
NASA says the heat shield is the “…largest of its kind ever built…” and will be placed on the Orion craft in March. Then in September 2014, an unmanned Orion flight named Exploration Flight Test-1 will be launched and will make two orbits around the Earth before returning through Earth’s atmosphere at 20,000 miles an hour. NASA says that’s faster than any spacecraft has gone in the past 40 years, and that the heat shield is expected to encounter temperatures of around 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit during the return. Flight data from the test will be used to make improvements to the heat shield and other Orion systems, analyze computer models, and “…reduce overall mission risks and costs for future Orion missions.” NASA plans call for Orion to be used to explore an asteroid and fly to Mars.
Click here to visit NASA’s Orion website.
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