NASA says test flight of new heat shield a successJuly 23, 2012 in Astronomy & Space / Space Exploration
NASA says an experimental heat shield for future spacecraft landings has successfully survived a test launch that brought it through the earth's atmosphere at speeds of up to 7,600 mph (12,230 kph).
The demonstration launch occurred Monday at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
A high-speed Navy Stiletto boat is attempting to retrieve the 680-pound (310-kilogram) heat shield.
The purpose of the launch was to determine whether a space capsule can use an inflatable outer shell to slow and protect itself as it enters an atmosphere at hypersonic speed during a planetary entry and descent.
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"NASA says test flight of new heat shield a success" July 23, 2012 http://phys.org/news/2012-07-nasa-flight-shield-success.html